In brief

The Australian anti-money laundering and countering of terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regulator, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has this week updated its guidance on reporting cash transactions above the AUD 10,000 threshold.

The guidance follows a consultation and associated draft guidance issued late last year. Previously, AUSTRAC’s guidance required the reporting entity to determine in each circumstance whether multiple cash transactions that reached AUD 10,000 in total should be treated as a single transaction. Now AUSTRAC has clarified that each transaction is to be evaluated on its own.

AUSTRAC is providing a 12-month transition period from 1 July 2022 for businesses to update their systems, processes and staff training.

In addition to the above guidance, from 17 June 2022 the new obligation to report cross-border movement of all monetary instruments valued at AUD 10,000 or more to AUSTRAC also applies.

Key takeaways

Reporting cash transactions

AUSTRAC has this week updated its guidance on reporting cash transactions above the AUD 10,000 threshold. There had always been some uncertainty where a single customer or account was involved in multiple transactions that when combined reached this threshold. Practically, there are various permutations as to how this occurs.

To describe each circumstance, AUSTRAC has provided 13 examples across a broad range of sectors along with its view as to whether a threshold transaction report is required and which funds are to be included in the report. We have summarised these into three categories of examples below.

The guidance follows a consultation process and associated draft guidance issued late last year. Previously, AUSTRAC’s guidance required the reporting entity to determine in each circumstance whether multiple cash transactions that reached the AUD 10,000 in total should be treated as a single transaction. Now AUSTRAC has clarified that each transaction is to be evaluated on its own, but that the reporting entity must turn its mind to determine whether the multiple transactions trigger a suspicious matter reporting obligation.

In summary the examples make it clear that each transaction should always be evaluated on its own. This is the case even for transactions that closely follow another and appear to expressly be separated at the customer's choice.

AUSTRAC is providing a 12-month transition period from 1 July 2022 for businesses to update their systems, processes and staff training.

Cross-border movement reporting

In addition to the above new guidance for physical currency threshold transactions, from 17 June 2022, changes to the reporting of cross-border movement of monetary instruments of AUD 10,000 or more (or foreign currency equivalent) have also taken effect. This follows reforms introduced in 2020.

Previously, a report to AUSTRAC was only required in respect of non-physical currency above the threshold if requested to do so by a police or customs officer. Since 17 June 2022, an obligation to report cross-border movement of all monetary instruments valued at AUD 10,000 or more to AUSTRAC (whether or not there has been a request by a police or customs officer) applies.

AUSTRAC examples

A summary of examples where a threshold transaction report will not be required includes the following:

  • Examples 1, 2 & 3: Split deposit into two accounts - Only if a single deposit is more than the threshold is there a reporting requirement for that deposit only. Amounts are not combined.
  • Examples 4, 5, 6 & 7: Multiple deposits into same account - Only if a single deposit is more than the threshold is there a reporting requirement for that deposit only. Amounts are not combined. This applies even if the amounts were split by an agent accepting the deposit (e.g., Post Office)
  • Examples 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 & 14: Separate designated services (purchase of bank cheque and making deposit - with cash) are treated separately. Likewise the purchase of two different currencies, two purchases of gaming chips at one casino, two offshore transfers or placing multiple wagers on a race are all treated separately.

However, it is important to note that in each of these examples a suspicious matter report may still be required unless there was a plausible basis for separating the transactions as described.