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Austrac boss defends financial crimes regulator, says casinos must improve


The chief govt of monetary intelligence regulator Austrac, Nicole Rose, has rejected criticism the company has been overly centered on banks, saying the sheer sum of money flowing via huge lenders makes them a key threat for cash laundering.

Austrac’s motion in opposition to banks for anti-money laundering compliance breaches has led to record-breaking company penalties in recent times, with Commonwealth Bank fined $700 million after a 2017 case and Westpac paying $1.3 billion after a 2019 lawsuit.

Austrac chief executive Nicole Rose

Austrac chief govt Nicole RoseCredit:Alex Ellinghausen

But the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this week revealed NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith had criticised Austrac in secret briefings final December. Smith final 12 months mentioned Austrac was “not swinging hard enough” and had didn’t extra aggressively fight organised crime due to its give attention to banks, based on the report, and described the company as “nitwits”.

Rose defended Austrac’s strategy on Friday, saying it had centered on banks first due to the dangers within the monetary sector, and in the previous few years it had been trying extra carefully at casinos, in addition to pubs and golf equipment.

“I don’t think that’s anywhere near correct,” Rose mentioned when requested to reply.

“Yes we have been focusing on the banks because they are the biggest risk for money laundering, in the sense that… the majority of the funds, go through the big banks in the country.”

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While Austrac has launched main courtroom circumstances in opposition to corporations, Rose added it was not the regulator’s job to make arrests. “When it comes to organised crime, we can’t arrest all these criminals, we actually have to provide the intelligence to law enforcement for them to arrest organised criminals and prosecute actual money laundering. As a regulator, we look at regulating compliance with the AML/CTF Act,” she mentioned.

On an earlier panel session, Rose mentioned priorities for Austrac this 12 months included schooling to boost consciousness about pubs and golf equipment’ AML/CTF obligations, and persevering with with investigations within the on line casino sector. Amid issues about laundering via pokies, the company is launching a nationwide marketing campaign to stop criminals from infiltrating “your local,” she mentioned.



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