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Media kit An introduction to AUSTRAC Introduction The Australian Transaction Reports In its intelligence role, AUSTRAC and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is provides financial information to Australia’s anti-money laundering state, territory and Australian law and counter-terrorism financing enforcement, security, social justice (AML/CTF) regulator and specialist and revenue agencies, and certain financial intelligence unit (FIU). international counterparts. AUSTRAC was established under the The intelligence provided has been Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988 analysed by highly qualified AUSTRAC (FTR Act) as a statutory authority within personnel who use sophisticated the Attorney-General’s portfolio and is tools to identify information that continued in existence by section 209 can assist AUSTRAC’s partner of the Anti-Money Laundering and agencies to investigate and prosecute Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 criminal and terrorist enterprises (AML/CTF Act). AUSTRAC provides advice in Australia and overseas. to the Minister for Home Affairs on the operations of the agency, the FTR Act and the AML/CTF Act. In its regulatory role, AUSTRAC oversees compliance with the reporting requirements of the AML/CTF Act and the FTR Act by a wide range of financial services providers, the gambling industry and other specified reporting entities. AUSTRAC ensures that reporting entities have effective AML/CTF programs in operation to ensure they know who their customers are, and monitor those customers where there is a high risk of money laundering or terrorism financing. 1 Fast facts AUSTRAC: • was established in 1989 • was one of the world’s first six FIUs • is a founding member of the international Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units • is a founding member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering • celebrated its 20th anniversary on 6 February 2009. Australia’s AML/CTF regulator In 2007–08 AUSTRAC: • received 17,965,373 financial transaction reports, equating to approximately 69,000 reports per day1 • received 29,089 suspect transaction reports (SUSTRs)2 • received 2,934,955 significant cash transaction reports3 • received 14,963,719 international funds transfer instruction reports • received 36,131 cross-border movement reports • received 1,479 bearer negotiable instrument reports. Australia’s FIU In 2007–08 AUSTRAC: • provided access to information which was subsequently used in 2,698 operational matters • disseminated 36,511 SUSTRs to partner agencies • disseminated 831 financial intelligence assessments to partner agencies for use in their operations and investigations • initiated 576 disseminations of AUSTRAC intelligence data to partner agencies • collaborated with the Tax Office to enable the identification of $36 million in previously undisclosed income as part of the Tax Office’s offshore voluntary disclosure initiative • contributed to Tax Office assessments of more than $76.7 million and more than $8.5 million of annualised savings for Centrelink • signed four MOUs for the international exchange of financial information with the FIUs of Germany, Czech Republic, Mexico and Saint Kitts and Nevis, bringing the total number to 53. 1. Financial transaction reports received by AUSTRAC increased by 14.13 per cent from 2006-07. This can be attributed to an increase in the number of regulated entities reporting to AUSTRAC, increased awareness of reporting obliga- tions, and increased financial activity within the economy. 2 2. Since the implementation of new reporting requirements on 12 December 2008, suspicious matter reports are submitted under the AML/CTF Act, replacing suspect transaction reports. 3. Since the implementation of new reporting requirements on 12 December 2008, threshold transaction reports are submitted under the AML/CTF Act, replacing significant cash transaction reports. Money laundering and terrorism financing AUSTRAC’s work in combating money The report reveals that money laundering laundering, the financing of terrorism and to, from, or within Australia was other major crime has taken on further characterised by the frequent use of importance because of the increasingly structuring transactions to avoid reporting international nature of organised crime requirements, accounts in false names, and and the heightened threat of terrorism. cash smuggling. It is likely that launderers frequently used cash and wire transfers to Money laundering refers to the ‘laundering’ effect money laundering involving Australia. or ‘washing’ of profits from criminal The use of credit cards, ‘payable through’ activities, making them appear to come from accounts, and other electronic payments legitimate sources. This is often referred to was not unusual, and gold, precious metals as turning ‘dirty’ money into ‘clean’ funds. and cheques were occasionally used. Criminals launder money so that they can The banking sector, casinos, the real estate enjoy the proceeds of their crimes. market and the accountancy profession The report The Extent of Money Laundering were most commonly believed to be in and through Australia in 200441notes utilised for money laundering in Australia. that the cost of money laundering to the Launderers generally invested their proceeds Australian economy is variously quoted as of crime into real estate or other sterile being between $2.8 to $6.3 billion dollars, assets such as high-value luxury items. with a likely figure of $4.5 billion. The Money laundering has wider implications report also notes that the extent of money for the economy, including: the risk of laundering in and through Australia was not corruption to institutions and some entire significantly different from that in 1995, financial sectors, losses to the financial and when the last report was published. government sectors being recovered from The greatest contributor to money the community in the forms of higher prices laundering in Australia was fraud (the for their services, and misleading monetary proceeds of fraud were estimated at $3.16 data changes in savings patterns. billion), followed by illicit drugs (the proceeds Terrorism financing can use assets such of drugs estimated at $382 million). It is as bank credits, travellers cheques, bank estimated that around 70 per cent of the cheques, money orders, shares, securities, proceeds of fraud and around 80 per cent bonds, drafts and letters of credit. The of the proceeds of drugs are laundered. The money involved can come from either profits generated tended to be invested by legitimate or criminal sources. The report criminals in real estate, gambling and luxury indicated that although very little is known goods. The need for launderers to find a safe about amounts of terrorism financing, the investment can have the effect of distorting economic and social consequences of a market prices, as the launderers may pay a single act of terrorism are immense. high price for a safe haven. 3 4. The research for the report conducted by John Walker, Crimes Trends Analysis, RMIT University, and John Stamp, AUSTRAC, was based on questionnaires and empirical data, and extends the findings of the 1995 report, Estimates of the extent of money laundering in and through Australia (Walker, 1995). Working in partnership– industry The AML/CTF Act was introduced to meet revised international Education and guidance standards and keep pace with criminal practices and changes in technology. Under the AML/CTF Act, AUSTRAC’s regulatory role has resources available via expanded, with enhanced compliance and enforcement powers AUSTRAC’s website (www. (including civil as well as criminal penalties) to ensure that Australia remains hostile to money laundering and terrorism financing. austrac.gov.au) include: To ensure minimum disruption to business, implementation of the new legislation was staggered over two years, with provisions The AUSTRAC Annual Report commencing between December 2006 and December 2008. 2007-08 – a financial and Currently, the FTR Act and the AML/CTF Act exist alongside each operational overview of AUSTRAC’s other. The AML/CTF Act will increasingly replace the FTR Act. work from the past financial year New obligations for reporting entities under the AML/CTF Act include AUSTRAC policies, guidance notes adopting and complying with an AML/CTF program to identify and and Public Legal Interpretations manage exposure to the risk of exploitation by parties engaged in money laundering or terrorism financing. This program also includes AUSTRAC Regulatory Guide – having customer identification procedures which allow a business to a practical document to assist be reasonably satisfied its customers are who they say they are. industry understand and meet AUSTRAC conducts a range of industry supervision activities obligations under the AML/CTF Act, from tailored educational presentations to formal audits. Primary AML/CTF Rules and FTR Act responsibility for complying with the AML/CTF legislation rests with industry itself. This is because the AML/CTF Act recognises that a AUSTRAC Typologies and Case reporting entity is best placed to assess the risk that its business Studies Report 2008 – identifies may be used for money laundering or terrorism financing. key methodologies and indicators AUSTRAC is working with industry, providing information and of criminal activities in operation guidance in meeting the new legislative requirements and within Australia raising awareness of the ways in which businesses could be used for criminal purposes. AUSTRAC’s regulatory approach is to build AUSTRAC e-learning – relationships and work collaboratively with industry. This includes ‘Introduction to AML/CTF’, producing print and online educational resources such as brochures, ‘AML/CTF programs’, ‘AML/CTF booklets, reports and e-learning courses, covering a wide range of reporting’ and ‘ongoing customer AML/CTF obligations. due diligence’ courses Brochure series – an introduction to key AML/CTF obligations and AUSTRAC resources Self Assessment Questionnaire – a comprehensive questionnaire to assist reporting entities assess their own progress on compliance with the AML/CTF Act. 4 Working in partnership –government agencies AUSTRAC is constantly researching and through contributions to law enforcement implementing new strategies to improve investigations and in the Australian Taxation the quality and effectiveness of its financial Office making assessments for more than intelligence. AUSTRAC collects, compiles, $76.7 million. analyses and disseminates financial AUSTRAC’s international commitment intelligence, using various sophisticated is reflected in its participation within analytical tools such as geo-coding and international forums and organisations, text mining, in addition to monitoring the in addition to working with counterpart changing nature of money laundering and FIUs worldwide. Exchanging financial terrorism financing. information with overseas FIUs enables AUSTRAC to make an integral contribution AUSTRAC’s financial intelligence to a global environment hostile to money assists partner agencies in the laundering, major crime and the financing investigation and prosecution of of terrorism. AUSTRAC also provides technical assistance and training in serious criminal activity, including particular to FIUs in the Asia Pacific organised crime, terrorism and region, assisting them in developing their tax evasion. own AML/CTF programs. Sharing information with other FIUs also enables AUSTRAC to AUSTRAC provides its financial further facilitate the development and intelligence to 34 Australian law maintenance of money laundering and enforcement, national security, revenue, terrorism financing typologies. regulatory and social justice partner agencies. AUSTRAC’s financial intelligence assists its partner agencies in the investigation and prosecution of serious criminal activity, including organised crime, terrorism and tax evasion. In 2007-08, AUSTRAC provided intelligence to partner agencies which was used in more than 2,698 operational matters during the year, including at the Australian Crime Commission and in the high profile Operation Wickenby investigation. The value that AUSTRAC contributes to its partner agencies can be seen in a range of prosecutions, 5 Contact us Receive media releases by email AUSTRAC media releases and general updates cover a wide range of the agency’s activities. Subscribe to AUSTRAC’s email distribution list by sending your name, title, organisation, email address and contact phone number(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. AUSTRAC media bulletin Subscribe on the AUSTRAC website media centre to stay up-to- date with developments in the AML/CTF environment. Information for journalists Journalists representing print media, radio and television, or producing commissioned articles, should contact the Corporate Communications team: Phone (03) 8636 0553 Mobile 0418 103 107 Email email@example.com Requests for comment or interviews Phone (03) 8636 0553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and provide: • your contact details • the media outlet you represent • details of the request • an outline of intended questions • name of the interviewer • where the content is likely to be published or broadcast • the anticipated deadline. A member of the Corporate Communications team will respond as quickly as possible. AUSTRAC’s media policy is to answer enquiries as accurately, thoroughly and promptly as possible. However, legal, policy or operational constraints may prevent 6 some requests from being met.
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