Possible reform of the Australian anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing (AML / CTF) legislative regime
Austrac, the government body responsible for overseeing Australian business’ compliance with the AML / CTF customer due diligence legislative regime, indicated in a discussion paper released this month that reform may be necessary to respond to changes to international standards.
The paper is the outcome of Austrac’s consideration of recent reforms to the international AML / CTF standards and notes amendments may be required in several areas, including:
- understanding the beneficial ownership and control structure of a customer;
- identifying settlors of a trust;
- enhancing customer due diligence requirements in high risk situations;
- understanding the nature of the customer’s business or occupation; and
- maintaining customer due diligence records.
ASIC signals potential focus on complex investment products and technology-based money laundering
ASIC Chairman, Greg Medcraft, this month signalled that the regulator may soon turn its focus to:
- misleading promoters of complex investment products, in the wake of cuts made by the Reserve Bank of Australia this month which brought interest rates to record lows; and
- technology-based money laundering activity, following the commencement of the international Liberty Reserve money laundering prosecution.
Australian Federal Police redouble efforts in the fight against foreign bribery
In late April, Sydney played host to the C5 Conference on Anti-Corruption, sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills. The two-day conference featured a range of speakers from law enforcement, business and professional services. Acting Manager of the Australian Federal Police’s Fraud and Anti-Corruption Crime Operations, Linda Champion noted that the AFP had taken a number of steps to increase its enforcement record (which was criticised by the OECD in its October 2012 report on Australia) including:
- creating a panel of experts on foreign bribery. That panel is constituted of specialists with experience in bribery investigations and is intended to provide quality assurance and strategic guidance in all cases involving allegations of foreign bribery.
- creating a Fraud and Anti-Corruption Crime Operations unit
- co-operating with foreign law enforcement agencies on tactics and training, including with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (who have recently been involved in the multi-jurisdictional investigation of Canadian construction company SNC-Lavalin), the City of London Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI and AFP have also had reciprocal secondment programs in place to share investigative skills around bribery.
New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office continues to show commitment to pursuing foreign bribery
New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office (NZSFO) is currently investigating a recent report of foreign bribery. General manager of the NZSFO’s fraud and corruption division, Nick Paterson, said that the recent report was only the second reported incident, after a previous report last year ultimately led nowhere. Paterson said that the NZSFO would be liaising with the AFP to pursue the matter.