AUSTRAC (Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing regulator) was recently able to uncover a large drugs syndicate and recover substantial sums of money from those criminal activities. The drugs gang set up an intricate web of company structures and property portfolios in an attempt to clean the money received in return for the supply of drugs.

The drugs syndicate was unwound when two suspect transaction reports were made to AUSTRAC which alerted them to their conduct and the police were informed. One of the members of the gang was noted to be making multiple cash deposits on the same day for sums just below the $10,000 reporting threshold. As a result of the alerts, and AUSTRAC’s intervention, the police were able to undo the syndicate resulting in the recovery of assets and prison sentences for those involved.

What this means for you

Where suspicious transactions are flagged by financial institutions systems, they should be reviewed and consideration should be given to whether a report should be made to the police or relevant other authorities. Information held by financial institutions can be key to their investigations and may uncover crimes that they were otherwise unaware of.

This extends to merchant acquirers. Where numerous chargeback requests are being received, it would be prudent for the reasons behind those chargebacks to be reviewed and scrutinised. For example, if refunds being received cite the fact that goods received are counterfeit, notifying the relevant authorities may result in the fraudulent activity being stopped.