A crucial part of protecting Australia’s financial system against criminal and terrorist exploitation is ensuring that businesses have a strong anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) program and culture.

AML/CTF is a complex area of the law and you may require assistance from a professional adviser to help you understand the risks facing your business and sector and your legal obligations, as well as to develop a tailored and robust AML/CTF program including staff training and independent reviews.

AUSTRAC outlines a range of questions to ask when selecting an AML/CTF adviser.

Questions to ask about the adviser

Before engaging an adviser, talk to them and consider the following factors about the person providing the services.

  • Do they demonstrate a sound knowledge of AML/CTF through relevant qualifications and/or experience providing AML/CTF advice, and can they provide details, referees or references?
  • Do they demonstrate a thorough understanding of the AML/CTF regulatory framework, and the legal obligations that your business must meet?
  • Do they demonstrate an understanding or capacity to understand your industry sector and business, and the money laundering and terrorism financing risks and operational challenges your business might reasonably face?

Questions to ask about the services they provide

Talk to the adviser to determine the specific services they provide and whether they will be able to assist you to develop a comprehensive and tailored AML/CTF program.

  • Will they conduct a tailored ML/TF risk assessment to address the risks specific to your business?
  • Will they tailor the AML/CTF program to address the particular needs of your business, factoring in risks relevant to your customers, your services, and where and how you operate?
  • Do they clearly explain the services that they will provide to help you meet your AML/CTF obligations, including anything they cannot do?
  • Do they offer ongoing support services (e.g. risk updates, technical advice) to help you continuously maintain AML/CTF compliance?
  • Do they provide regular, practical, effective training to your staff, tailored to suit your business operating environment?
  • If you are engaging them for the purpose of a review, do they demonstrate independence from the development or operation of your AML/CTF program when conducting the review?

An important decision

AUSTRAC states that “It is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that any third parties your business engages are suitably qualified and experienced to provide products and services that comply with your AML/CTF obligations.”

Therefore, if you contravene your AML/CTF obligations due to having received poor advice, this will not stand as a legitimate defence. Selecting a skilled and experienced adviser who meets the criteria set out by AUSTRAC is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.