–‘Disappointing’: Big four banks to skip financial crime inquiry
NOVEMBER 7 2021
The Senate approved a motion by Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill in June to launch a formal inquiry into the effectiveness of laws, regulators and companies tasked with preventing financial crime. The committee has since called on a range of law enforcement, academic and industry participants to participate in two days of public hearings. ….
Senator O’Neill said major banks play a key role in defences against money laundering and terrorism financing and provide AUSTRAC with much of its intelligence.
“It is disappointing that Australia’s major banks have chosen not to appear at a Senate inquiry into the important issue of money laundering, given their prominent role in the Australian economy and involvement in several recent high-profile money laundering scandals,” Senator O’Neill said.
The major banks detailed the level of investment needed to uplift anti-money laundering (AML) processes when appearing before the economics committee in September. “It would be helpful for the inquiry to know how these upgrades are progressing, when they will be completed, how they will continue to be upgraded and how effectively they’re currently operating to prevent criminal activity and money laundering in Australia,” Senator O’Neill said.
–‘Devastating impact’: Austrac warns banks against ditching crypto dealers
NOVEMBER 9 2021
“The effect of debanking of legitimate and lawful financial services businesses can increase the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing and negatively impacts Australia’s economy,” Austrac said in its statement.
“For this reason, Austrac continues to discourage the indiscriminate and widespread closure of accounts across entire financial services sectors.”
A Senate inquiry into Australia becoming a financial services hub recently heard evidence from small businesses specialising in trading cryptocurrency on the impacts of debanking – a now industry-wide practice.
*A second Senate inquiry into Australia’s anti-money laundering laws is this week hearing evidence from finance industry participants and regulators about whether to expand our transaction reporting regime to include real estate agents, accountants and lawyers.
–Money laundering pumps up housing bubble
NOVEMBER 9 2021
The head of Transparency International Australia, Serena Lillywhite, says money laundering creates “devastating impacts” for the country.
“Australia has become the destination of choice for illicit financial flows … which too often end up in the property market,” she told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday.
“It can reasonably be argued that it is driving up property prices in Australia and locking Australians out of owning their own home.”
Sudanese generals, Malaysian bankers, Papua New Guinea elites and Chinese high rollers were all signalled as people using the Australian property market to wash funds.
Criminals are able to use family members or other third parties with no criminal record to buy property in Australia in their name.
Australia’s financial watchdog AUSTRAC flagged in one of its analyses $1 billion of suspicious property transactions from Chinese investors, the inquiry heard.
Ms Lillywhite questioned what it would take for Australia to close loopholes being exploited by criminals to launder their money after Crown Casino was able to keep its licence despite adverse findings from a royal commission.
“How much evidence of money laundering in Australia will it take before the law is changed and enforcement ramped up?” she said.
Ms Lillywhite called for the strengthening of the financial watchdog and broadening its scope as well as the closure of legal loopholes that allow criminals to conduct business in Australia.
The hearing was told Australia’s financial markets were attractive to criminals because of the ease at which they could hide funds through the creation of trusts and shell companies.
Labor senator Deborah O’Neill said the evidence shocking, quipping that rock band AC/DC had it right.
“You can do dirty things cheaply in Australia,” she said.
“A $2 company and off you go, no one will know what’s going on.”
–Senate hearing hears Australia is lagging behind in updating its money laundering and terrorist financing laws
NOVEMBER 10 2021
AML/CTF expert Neil Jeans said there is a lack of political appetite in addressing the lagging laws.
“There has been limited action to address those weaknesses,” he said.
“We know that we have been non-compliant for the longest and we have done nothing about it.”
The committee is expected to hear from the Reserve Bank, AUSTRAC and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission on Wednesday.
–Russia’s shock note as crims use Aussie high-flyers for dirty cash
NOVEMBER 10 2021
Russia has revealed how Australia has ignored money laundering`, as organised crime gangs put $50b through unregulated lawyers, accountants and real estate agents.
-‘Of course there are examples’: Criminals laundering billions through Australian housing market
NOVEMBER 10 2021
Austrac national manager intelligence partnerships Bradley Brown said.
“The logical economic consequence of an unequal market means that if a person like you and I was competing next to a person who had illicit proceeds of crime, then it’s an unfair situation,” Mr Brown said, responding to questions from Senator O’Neill.
But allegations that home buyers were potentially competing with crime gangs came as a surprise to the real estate agents lobby group, with the REIA president, Adrian Kelly, saying he had not seen any evidence that Australian real estate was particularly vulnerable to money laundering.
“To suggest that money laundering is pushing house prices up, I’m not sure that’s something that could be substantiated,” Mr Kelly said. He added the REIA was supportive of providing information to agencies to assist in their investigations but the industry was wary of the cost impost of being formally brought within the money-laundering laws given many agencies were small businesses. *
His concerns were echoed by Liberal Senator Paul Scarr who said some of the information being sought from real estate agents could be provided by conveyancing lawyers processing transactions.
… ‘thou doth protest too much’ … ???
Afterall it is the Real Estate Agents who engage with Buyers … whether it be locally at home inspections, with Onshore Proxies and/or Online!
The Foreign Investment Review Board (the FIRB) has facilitated foreign buying of Australian Property AND the Morrison Government has created a large number of Temporary Visas enticing foreigners to invest in our property market to gain a Permanent Resident Visa!
AND the Morrison Government exempted the Real Estate Gatekeepers from the Second Tranche of the Anti-Money Laundering Laws in October 2018!
Those Real Estate Agencies, small businesses, appear to have never flourished so much as they have throughout 2021 with the house price hike of 21% to date in 2021!
Perhaps they could employ an administration person to investigate?
–Informer: Watch out, there are more scams about
NOVEMBER 10 2021
A Senate hearing has been told that Australia is at risk of becoming a priority destination for money laundering as our financial crime laws lag behind the rest of the world.
Labor senator Deborah O’Neill said during the hearing that money laundering was costing the economy upwards of $50 billion a year, with funds linked to drug and sex trafficking and child exploitation being legitimised domestically.
“This is quite significant for Australia as an international global citizen that we come to the party and catch up to the game,” Senator O’Neill said.
Australia might be ranked first for money launderers, but for climate policy we are ranked last.
Needless to say, these rankings aren’t something we should be proud of.
–Widespread Money Laundering is contributing to Australia’s inflated Property Prices, a Senate inquiry has heard
NOVEMBER 10 2021
WITH ill-gotten cash laundered through a corporation, a business and secure in a sound investment of housing! Extremely difficult for law enforcement to take it back!
AUSTRALIA is at the bottom … non compliant with FATF global standards along with Haiti and Madagascar
The AML Laws were implemented in 2006 Yet the Second Tranche was shelved from then until October 2018 when the Scomo Govt exempted the Real Estate Gatekeepers despite the rise of the dark web transaction exchanges using cryptocurrency!
How burdensome would it be for Agents to employ an Admin person paid $50K a year when they command Sales Commission of $30K plus for each house sale?
The ABA said the ability of banks and Australian law enforcement agencies to detect, deter and disrupt financial crime will be enhanced if the Australian regime is aligned to international standards!
NOVEMBER 11 2021
Transparency International Australia CEO Ms Lillywhite told the Committee:
“It has devastating impacts both in Australia and overseas and can be reasonably argued it is driving up property prices in Australia and locking many Australians out of owning their own home,”
While she noted:
-it would be difficult to track down records or documentation
“We know that we do have this gaping hole in our law, that does mean that Australia is a more attractive destination than others,” she said.
-TI has called for reforms to target Australia’s “weak” anti-money laundering (AML) regime and to introduce a public register of beneficial ownership
–AUSTRAC reaffirmed to the committee that the “use of real estate is an established method of money laundering internationally”
-and reported criminals may also renovate and improve real estate – thereby increasing the value of their properties and potentially profiting if they sell
–Australia is one of a few countries that are yet to introduce the Tranche 2 reforms to its anti-money laundering laws; including lawyers, accountants and real estate professionals
REAL ESTATE AGENCIES ARE TURNING OVER HOW MANY SALES WEEKLY?
SO if there is to be no implementation and enforcement of the Second Tranche of the AML LAWS to return our Housing Market to Our Families … it would seem that the Morrison Government ought lock out Foreign Buyers from residential property in Australia …
–Why would the REIA Push Back Against Tranche 2 Anti-Money Laundering Laws?