The Attorney General’s Department (AGD) in Australia initiated a public consultation on 20 April 2023 to discuss proposed reforms to the country’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regime. These potential changes aim to broaden the current AML/CTF legislation to cover ‘tranche-two’ high-risk sectors including lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, company service providers, and dealers in precious metals and stones.
Ahead of the June 16th deadline for responses, Arctic Intelligence’s CEO, Anthony Quinn, presented a comprehensive paper on behalf of the company, suggesting significant considerations for the proposed reforms. He emphasised the necessity for swift action from the AGD.
Quinn expressed his concerns about the past reluctances of Australian governments to extend AML/CTF laws, making Australia an appealing hub for organised criminals. He cited the Australian Crime Commission’s data, stating that money laundering is costing the Australian economy around AUD$60.1bn per year.
Arctic Intelligence backs the simplification of the AML/CTF Act to make the regulations more comprehensible and manageable for organisations. Quinn recommended the use of clear, prescriptive language and explicit timeframes to avoid any misinterpretation.
The CEO believes it is crucial to expand AML/CTF regulations to cover gatekeeper professions such as lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents. This view aligns with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that has, in the past, criticised the Australian government’s lack of action in this domain.
Quinn also called for the inclusion of high-value goods dealers in the expanded laws, citing this as a significant oversight by the AGD. Including these dealers, he stated, would demonstrate commitment to preserving the integrity of Australia’s financial system and ensure alignment with international standards set by the FATF.
Arctic Intelligence further supports the introduction of annual enterprise-wide risk assessments (EWRA) for businesses, particularly those at higher risk. Quinn emphasised the challenges many companies face in conducting effective EWRAs due to lack of proper tools and understanding of risk models.
Quinn also underscored the importance of independent reviews, which are not currently a mandatory requirement in Australia’s AML/CTF laws. He suggested that the laws should clearly state all businesses must have their AML/CTF Programs independently reviewed every two years or annually for high-risk sectors.
In summary, Arctic Intelligence views these proposed reforms as a chance to enhance the level of AML/CTF compliance in Australia and urges a rapid and broad implementation across all sectors. According to Quinn, these changes will help counteract the billions being laundered by organised criminals and support Australia in combating financial crimes effectively.
Arctic Intelligence, an award-winning RegTech, is renowned for its comprehensive financial crime risk assessment tools. Its platforms, AML Accelerate and Risk Assessment, are used worldwide by hundreds of businesses ranging from small to large-scale enterprises.