AUSTRAC issues know-your-customer, cuckoo smurfing warning
James Frost, 28 June 2021
The financial intelligence regulator has warned reporting entities to stay on top of their obligations, following recent changes to the AML-CTF Act that added clarity on know-your-customer requirements and banned certain types of correspondent banking.
AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose spoke of the growing awareness of the damage money laundering was doing to the community in a newsletter that reminded entities they needed to verify a customer before letting them make transactions and contained a guide on how to spot a form of money laundering known as “cuckoo smurfing”, which facilitates the transfer of funds overseas without alerting the authorities. Continue reading “Article: AUSTRAC issues know-your-customer, cuckoo smurfing warning”
Money laundering cop AUSTRAC to face grilling under new financial crime inquiry
Charlotte Grieve, 23 June 2021
The financial intelligence watchdog and big four banks will be probed under a new parliamentary inquiry designed to measure the efficiency and adequacy of the Australia’s anti-money laundering regime.
The Senate approved a motion brought by Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill on Wednesday to launch a formal inquiry into the effectiveness of the laws, regulators and companies tasked with stamping out illicit fund flows. Continue reading “Article: Money laundering cop AUSTRAC to face grilling under new financial crime inquiry”
NAB working with Accenture on massive compliance fix
Consultancy.com.au, 15 June 2021
Consulting giant Accenture is reportedly working with the NAB on a “mammoth” project to fix the long-standing compliance issues which have recently led to increased regulatory scrutiny.
The National Australia Bank has brought in professional services giant Accenture on a secret project to combat shortfalls in its financial crimes compliance and identification of high-risk customers, according to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald. Dubbed ‘Project Apollo’, the engagement is described as ‘mammoth’ by the paper, with Accenture said to have hired additional staff to work specifically on the project. Continue reading “Article: NAB working with Accenture on massive compliance fix”
Austrac Accuses Australian Casinos of Money-Laundering
Niji Narayan, 08 June 2021
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac), a state-run financial intelligence organization, has leveled allegations against many of the major land-based casinos in the country.
Crown Resorts, Star Entertainment and SkyCity Entertainment Group are among those who have received notices. Austrac has also reportedly contacted National Bank of Australia (NAB) regarding the matter. Continue reading “Article: Austrac Accuses Australian Casinos of Money-Laundering”
Australian financial crime watchdog widens probe on casinos already reeling from COVID
Reuters, 07 June 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s anti-money-laundering agency on Monday widened a probe into due diligence at casinos to include the three biggest operators, ratcheting up pressure on a sector already struggling with the pandemic and heightened regulatory scrutiny.
Months into an investigation of top player Crown Resorts, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said it was formally looking into possible breaches of background check rules at rival Star Entertainment Group and New Zealand’s SkyCity Entertainment Group.
That means owners of casinos in Australia’s five most populous cities now face enforcement investigations that could carry fines or restrict their licences. Continue reading “Article: Australian financial crime watchdog widens probe on casinos already reeling from COVID”
Australia’s NAB faces money laundering probe
ishwarkimmins, 07 June 2021
The National Australia Bank is being investigated by national financial crime regulators for breaking money laundering laws as part of a broader crackdown on organized crime.
Australia’s third-largest market capitalization company said Monday that Australia has begun a formal investigation into its compliance with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws. The casino groups Crown Resorts, Star Entertainment Group and Sky City Entertainment Group are also under investigation, he said. The investigation is part of an extensive campaign by authorities aimed at organized crime revenue, focusing on financial institutions, casinos and crypto exchanges. Continue reading “Article: Australia’s NAB faces money laundering probe”
Call for royal commission into SkyCity Adelaide amid AUSTRAC investigation
abc, 07 June 2021
Two South Australian MPs have called for a royal commission into the operations of the Adelaide casino similar to those underway into Crown in Victoria and Western Australia.
SkyCity revealed this morning it was being investigated by financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC over serious non-compliance relating to money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws in its Adelaide operations. It runs the Adelaide casino as well as three others in New Zealand. Continue reading “Article: Call for royal commission into SkyCity Adelaide amid AUSTRAC investigation”
Financial crime regulator warns about the world of ‘cuckoo Smurfing’
Karen Tan, 07 June 2021
You might not have heard of it before, or even know what it is, but “cuckoo Smurfing” is a sneaky way organised criminals engage in money laundering, by exploiting the legitimate bank accounts of individuals and businesses in Australia.
It is used to move illegal funds into Australia and disguise profits from criminal activities. The key targets appear to be Australian expatriates and exporters, international students studying in Australia, international investors and migrants wishing to settle in Australia.
When Australia’s financial crime regulator, AUSTRAC, released its new financial crime guide last week (3 June 2021), it warned businesses and consumers about the “cuckoo Smurfing” method, and described it as a “sinister practice with an endearing name.” Continue reading “Article: Financial crime regulator warns about the world of ‘cuckoo Smurfing’”
Australia’s NAB reveals anti-money laundering probe, shares fall
Paulina Duran, 06 June 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – National Australia Bank said on Monday it is under investigation for suspected serious and ongoing breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, sparking concerns about potential fines and higher compliance costs.
The financial crime regulator said there were “areas of serious concern” that required further investigation, but it was not considering a civil penalty order at this stage.
Shares in Australia’s third-largest lender fell 2.6% in morning trading while the wider market was little changed.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said the problems at NAB involved “potential serious and ongoing non-compliance” with customer identification procedures, customer due diligence and other compliance requirements.
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Crown stuffs $630m under the bed, betting on rainy days ahead
Elizabeth Knight, 24 May 2021
At first glance there doesn’t appear to be an obvious nexus between alleged fresh money laundering claims against Crown Resorts revealed during Monday’s Victorian royal commission and the company’s decision not to redeem $630 million of subordinated notes.
For that matter, most wouldn’t join the dots between Crown’s decision to not pay out its noteholders and claims by the Victorian gaming regulator last week that it was misled by Crown about the arrests of 19 of its China staff back in 2016.
Crown paints a portrait of itself as a now conservative company that wants to maintain its liquidity in the face of the COVID-induced sporadic closures of its venues or changes to their operating conditions. Continue reading “Article: Crown stuffs $630m under the bed, betting on rainy days ahead”
WA gambling watchdog ‘ineffective’ in face of money laundering risk
Hannah Wootton, 19 May 2021
The Western Australia gambling watchdog’s board “regularly discussed” the threat of money laundering in Crown’s Perth casino but did not feel it had “the resources or authority” to investigate it itself, a royal commission heard on Wednesday.
The Gaming and Wagering Commission instead relied on AUSTRAC, WA Police and the Federal Police to stop any possible illegality on its watch, despite not knowing how these law enforcement agencies actually did so. Continue reading “Article: WA gambling watchdog ‘ineffective’ in face of money laundering risk”
Crown ‘lied’ in Victoria, evidence of money laundering in Perth
Elouise Fowler and Brad Thompson, 17 May 2021
Crown Resorts management “lied” and used delay tactics to stymie an investigation into the 2016 arrests of 19 China-based staff, the Victorian gambling regulator told the Crown Resorts royal commission on Monday.
Timothy Bryant, an investigator at the gambling watchdog, told the Victorian inquiry that Crown’s stonewalling meant it took longer to uncover the truth about the gambling giant’s failure to protect its staff, 16 of whom were jailed for illegally promoting gambling in China.
“I certainly consider that they [Crown], at times, they lied to me at interviews about what they were aware of and what they weren’t aware of,” Mr Bryant revealed to the inquiry, which is examining Crown’s suitability to hold its Melbourne casino licence. Continue reading “Article: Crown ‘lied’ in Victoria, evidence of money laundering in Perth”
Asic accuses Westpac of insider trading over $12bn Ausgrid privatisation deal
Ben Butler, 05 May 2021
The corporate regulator has taken legal action accusing Westpac of insider trading over a $12bn interest rate swap linked to the part-privatisation in 2016 of New South Wales’s electricity distribution network, Ausgrid.
In a federal court lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission accused Westpac of using inside information to trade in interest rate derivatives during the two hours before it executed the swap, which was the largest in Australian history.
It is the latest regulatory blow for the big bank, which in September last year agreed to pay a record $1.3bn fine to settle legal action over money laundering and child exploitation allegations levelled against it by the financial intelligence agency, Austrac.
Westpac also has recent form in the area of market manipulation – in 2018, the federal court found it had engaged in “serious and unacceptable” conduct by attempting to fix an interest rate benchmark, and fined it $3.3m, which was the maximum available under the law at the time.
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Australia’s banking regulator ends Westpac money laundering probe
Reuters Staff, 12 March 2021
(Reuters) – Australia’s banking regulator said on Friday it had closed the investigation against Westpac Banking Corp for possible breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.
The bank was first accused of breaching the laws in 2019 by the country’s financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC, which led to parallel probes by corporate regulator ASIC and banking regulator Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
In September last year, Westpac was forced to agree to a record A$1.3 billion ($1.01 billion) payment to settle AUSTRAC’s claims.
APRA said on Friday it had closed its investigation after considering the results of the probe by ASIC, which was closed in December last year.
“Although the investigation has not found evidence of breaches … APRA remains determined to ensure Westpac rectifies its risk governance weaknesses effectively and sustainably,” the APRA Deputy Chair John Lonsdale said.
In a separate statement, Westpac acknowledged APRA’s decision to end the probe.
($1 = 1.2844 Australian dollars)
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Millions vanish into crypto world in high-yield bond scam
Michael Roddan and Jonathan Shapiro, 08 March 2021
Sophisticated British criminals exploited vulnerabilities in Australia’s search engine and cryptocurrency infrastructure to dupe small investors, lured by the promise of high-yield funds badged by some of the finance world’s most trusted brands.
The complex scheme involved stolen identities and fraudulent prospectuses that claimed to represent high-yield investment funds run by global managers Citibank, Nomura, and IFM Investors. It has ensnared millions from unsuspecting victims who sought better returns as interest rates collapsed during the COVID-19 crisis. Continue reading “Article: Millions vanish into crypto world in high-yield bond scam”