Australian Federal Police foreign bribery investigations rise to 37

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner has confirmed the AFP is currently investigating 37 cases of foreign bribery. The average time for a single case is 7.5 years, with cases taking up to a decade to investigate. Speaking at the National Press Club, Commissioner Andrew Colvin said that the “ever-increasing complexity” of cases was behind the long investigation run-times, which require specialisation “beyond that of an average police officer”. Commissioner Colvin said that cyber crime was the most challenging type of crime that his officers confronted, with white-collar crime taking up an increasing amount of the AFP’s time.  

Australia hosts international taskforce annual meeting on tackling foreign bribery and corruption

In early May, Australia hosted the International Foreign Bribery Taskforce conference (IFBT) involving law enforcement representatives from the Australian Federal Police, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the UK's National Crime Agency. The IFBT meets annually to share operational updates on ongoing investigations and discuss ways to work together to exchange real-time intelligence relevant to addressing global bribery and corruption. The IFBT exemplifies the more structured approach to information sharing and international cooperation between authorities on foreign bribery and corruption matters.  

Additional funding announced for the Australian Federal Police to target corporate crime

The Australian Government has announced an additional A$321 million in funding for the Australian Federal Police in the 2017-18 budget. Target areas for the new funding include efforts to combat cyber-crime, anti-corruption, terrorism, criminal gangs and organised crime. The funding is to be delivered over the next four years with up to 300 new personnel expected to be hired.   

Australia and Papua New Guinea sign MoU against financial crime and terrorism financing

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Australia's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator and financial intelligence unit, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Papua New Guinea's Financial Analysis and Supervision Unit for the exchange of financial intelligence. AUSTRAC now has 87 formal arrangements to share financial intelligence with other countries. These agreements allow AUSTRAC and its international counterparts to share information about financial transactions, financial intelligence, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism supervision. In the last 3 years, AUSTRAC has seen a 201% increase in international intelligence exchanges comprising both incoming and outgoing requests for information (as reported in its most recent Annual Report).  

ATO Deputy Commissioner involved in tax fraud charges

Following an eight month investigation, described as one of the biggest white collar fraud investigations in Australian history, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested and charged nine individuals with involvement in a conspiracy to defraud the Australian Government approximately $165 million. Among those arrested, six were charged with defrauding the Commonwealth, two with money laundering, and one with alleged extortion of the syndicate. The AFP claim a legitimate company allegedly funnelled wage payments through a series of subcontracted firms controlled by the syndicate, who then paid the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) a fraction of the required income tax. The withheld tax was then allegedly distributed to the operators of the scheme. The son and daughter of the ATO Deputy Commissioner are among those charged. While the Deputy Commissioner is not accused of being directly involved in the alleged fraud, he has been charged with abuse of power in relation to allegations he accessed information from ATO systems for his son.

Court dismisses insider trading case against banker

A former banker was cleared by the NSW Local Court of 11 counts of procuring or encouraging an individual to commit insider trading. The former banker was accused of passing inside information regarding particular stocks to a colleague during “lunchtime jogs”. The individual has previously served a prison sentence for insider trading and gave evidence that he had concealed from the accused his trading so that he could continue to receive information. The Court heard that the former bank received “no financial benefit whatsoever” from his colleague's illegal trades. Counsel for the former banker argued that it was not an offence to pass inside information to a person unless tipping or procuring was also involved. The Court agreed and found that the accused should not stand trial for insider trading.  

AUSTRAC releases money laundering and terrorism financing risk assessment report

AUSTRAC has released a report into the risks associated with stored value cards. A copy of the report is available here. The report found that stored value cards, including travel and gift cards, are highly vulnerable to exploitation. AUSTRAC has identified the overall money laundering and terrorism financing risk of stored value cards as medium, with the most common form of misuse as money laundering. AUSTRAC has encouraged Australian businesses that issue stored value cards to familiarise themselves with the risks involved to ensure their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing systems are effective to protect against criminal misuse.