It is no secret that rapid technological developments are being exploited by organised crime groups to transfer illicit funds across borders with relative ease, whilst often evading detection.
As money laundering becomes an increasingly international threat, a powerful global response is needed to successfully prevent, detect and prosecute these crimes.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is Australia’s financial intelligence agency, responsible for monitoring financial transactions and utilising regulation to disrupt money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crime.
On its website, AUSTRAC provides insight into how it leverages international partnerships in the global fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
Sharing information, intelligence and expertise
AUSTRAC shares information and intelligence with financial intelligence units (FIUs) and regulators around the world in order to combat money laundering and terrorism financing across borders.
This involves negotiating agreements such as memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with each foreign jurisdiction or entity, defining exactly how information will be exchanged.
International visit programs bring together international analysts and financial intelligence specialists to build relationships, exchange information and technical assistance.
AUSTRAC also has officers located in FIUs across Southeast Asia, the US and UK to strengthen partnerships and collective intelligence with those jurisdictions.
AUSTRAC is a member of international organisations that work to combat money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crime.
- Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – a global group that fights money laundering, terrorism financing and financial crime.
- Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units – a united body enabling cooperation among FIUs from more than 160 countries around the world.
- Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) – a FATF-style regional body for the Asia-Pacific region.
AUSTRAC also has observer status at the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).
Technical assistance and training
Due to the increasingly cross-border nature of crime, Australia’s national security is influenced by the security its surrounding regions.
AUSTRAC delivers technical assistance and training (TA&T) programs to our neighbours’ financial intelligence units and regulators to help them to strengthen skills, improve governance, better track and combat money laundering and terrorism financing, and increase compliance with international AML/CTF standards.
Recent international activities
25th Egmont Plenary 2018
AUSTRAC hosted the 25th Egmont Plenary in Sydney from 23 to 28 September 2018. The theme was public private partnerships and how these sectors can cooperate to fight financial crime, demonstrated through successful ventures such as the Fintel Alliance.
Throughout the event, which hosted 419 delegates from 120 countries, over 50 Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed across Egmont Group members.
Counter Terrorism Financing Summit
The annual Counter Terrorism Financing (CTF) Summit is attended by heads of FIUs, senior representatives from regulatory, law enforcement and national security agencies, as well as delegates from industry and academia.
AUSTRAC attends this summit, where attendees cooperate to understand and respond to terrorism financing and other significant financial threats.
Summit outcomes include the creation of practical guides for industry, for example to identify ‘red flags’ for money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as plans for improved international cooperation and information exchange.
Financial Intelligence Consultative Group
The Financial Intelligence Consultative Group (FICG) is the operational arm of the CTF Summit, consisting of the heads of intelligence from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia and New Zealand.
This group takes outcomes of CTF summits and puts them into action. A recent example is the Bangkok Communique which was developed as part of the 2018 CTF Summit in Bangkok as a roadmap for regional cooperation. The FICG will deliver on the outcomes of this Communique at the 5th regional CTF Summit in November 2019 in the Philippines.
Australia’s first financial intelligence codeathon saw teams of technology experts and other innovators working together to find innovative solutions to complex AML/CTF challenges such as:
- using big data to combat terrorism financing
- applying artificial intelligence to improve AML/CTF compliance and suspicious matter reporting
- applying blockchain technologies to improve financial services, AML compliance and secure intelligence sharing
In March 2018 ASEAN and Australia signed a Counter Terrorism Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with key outcomes including the establishment of a regional Financial Intelligence Analyst Course (FIAC) and a Multilateral Analyst Exchange Program (MAEP).
The FIAC, delivered to all ASEAN countries, will help to build financial intelligence skills and capabilities to understand, detect, prevent and disrupt financial crime.
MAEPs explore opportunities for spontaneous disclosure of information amongst regional FIUs.