AUSTRAC introduces new rules to help victims of domestic abuse escape financial dependency

From: RegTech Analytics

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (ASUTRAC) has changed the rules regarding money laundering and terrorism financing in order to help people fleeing domestic abuse become financially independent more easily.

What the new rules will do is that they will enable banks and other businesses to accept alternative ways of identification if a customer is unable to produce their driver’s license or birth certificate, or show a different address.

AUSTRAC estimates that over two million Australians will experience financial abuse some time in their lives, with 63% of women experiencing financial stress having a background of financial abuse. The abuser uses violence and intimidation to restrict access to a person’s bank accounts, prevent them from working or accessing benefits, or withholds living expenses from them or their children.

AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose said having a bank account independent of an abuser is essential for those who are leaving or have left an abusive relationship. She added that the new guidance supports Australian regulated businesses to uphold their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing obligations while adopting a flexible approach to customer identity processes.

AUSTRAC collaborated on the rule change with the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and the Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) NSW who initiated the project and identified the opening of bank accounts as a significant barrier.

Anna Bligh, CEO of ABA, welcomed the change. “When fleeing a violent situation it is often not possible to collect documents, or these are sometimes deliberately withheld by a perpetrator,” she said. “This can make proving an identity to usual bank standards a very difficult barrier to financial independence.”

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