The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) is an inter-governmental organisation, consisting of 41 member jurisdictions including Australia, focused on ensuring that its members effectively implement the international standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism/proliferation contained in the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The APG is part of a global network of similar bodies, referred to as Financial Action Task Force-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs). In its 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, the APG outlines its key strategic goals, and puts into context the affect its work has on the global economy.

How does money laundering and terrorism financing affect the economy?

Criminal activities such as cybercrime and corruption not only threaten a country’s system of governance, but also its economy. Illicit funds are drawn out of the legitimate economy and away from public resources, straining already scarce resources and threatening economic prosperity and stability.

The strength of an economy further affects private sector investment in trade and tourism, and developing economies in particular can be excluded from global financial flows because of their perceived risk in money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF).

APG Strategic Goals

The APG outlines three key strategic goals to support economic stability and strengthen national AML/CFT systems in the Pacific. These goals are supported by the Pacific Technical Assistance (TA) Cell.

Goal 1

Be an effective multilateral organisation supporting implementation of the FATF standards and the work of the global AML/CFT network.

The Pacific TA Cell will support this objective by ensuring effective coordination and governance structures are in place, including within the APG Secretariat and Pacific Island jurisdictions, and through resourcing the Cell with appropriately qualified staff.

Goal 2

Work cooperatively to understand the risk environment for money laundering and terrorist financing and support implementation of the FATF standards.

National AML/CFT regimes will be strengthened through implementation of the following strategies:

  • Engage stakeholders to garner political commitment and drive to enhancing AML/CFT systems.
  • Ensure AML/CFT measures are undertaken on the basis of strong policy discussions and planning, including understanding risk.
  • Support Pacific Island jurisdictions in engaging productively with the global AML/CFT community, including benefiting from associated activities.

Goal 3

Conduct and respond to the assessment of members’ compliance with, and implementation of, the FATF standards.

The Pacific TA Cell has developed two key strategic goals to support this overall goal, with associated strategies to achieve these goals.

Improving and enforcing AML/CFT regulation

The Pacific TA Cell will provide legislative drafting assistance to bring legislation into greater compliance with FATF standards, and will provide tailored programmes and mentoring to assist financial supervisors/regulators to improve capacity in enforcing AML/CFT measures and regulating financial activity.

Increasing detection, investigation and prosecution of ML/TF

The Pacific TA Cell will achieve this goal through implementation of the following strategies:

  • Provide programmes/mentoring to ensure law enforcement agencies have the capacity and capability to detect and investigate ML/TF.
  • Provide tailored programmes and mentoring to ensure ML/TF is prosecuted.
  • Strengthen mechanisms for recovery and repatriation of proceeds and assets connected to criminal activity.
  • Provide anti-corruption mentoring to improve capacity for use of financial investigations in combating the key regional risk areas of corruption.

A global approach

The APG plans to strengthen AML/CFT systems in the Pacific represent a broad global whole-of-government approach, which can be seen through other initiatives of the Australian Government. Such initiatives include assisting Indo-Pacific countries to strengthen their cybercrime legislation, helping its regional neighbours strengthen their legal frameworks, and the capacity to investigate and prosecute cybercrime.

It is in Australia’s interest to help our neighbours strengthen their AML/CFT systems, as well as other specific areas such as cybercrime law enforcement, as these efforts increase the resilience of the Asia-Pacific region to threats from international organised crime groups.