Anti-money laundering laws – where are we at?

All bills before parliament before the 2022 election have lapsed.  Hence, a pre-April 2022 Bill in response to a 2016 recommendation to introduce law to counter money laundering and terrorist financing – by way of a Bill introduced into parliament in February 2022 requiring the government to introduce a Bill into parliament by 30 September 2022 – is no longer relevant: see the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment (Increased Financial Transparency) Bill 2022.  It had been referred to the Senate Selection of Bills Committee, which itself deferred consideration of the Bill to its then next meeting. That is all for nought.  The Act to have been amended is the Anti‐ Money Laundering/Counter‐Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (Cth) (AML/CTF Act).

It was a spurious bill to start with but perhaps reflected some frustration at Australia’s lack of progress in meeting its AML and other obligations.   See Australia’s response to money laundering and terrorist financing – a Bill for a Bill – Murrays Legal

As I have reported, in November 2016, the government proposed a beneficial ownership register for companies, being a register of “the natural person(s) who ultimately owns or controls a customer and/or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted (…)”.

Such a register would counter “longstanding concerns that, when companies, land or real property are bought through shell companies, so disguising their true ownership, the resulting lack of transparency may allow corruption or crime to flourish”.

This followed a major report on the limitations of our AML/CTF Act, and the limited information available about the true ownership of Australian companies compared with other countries. 

It seems that no steps have yet been taken by this government to improve Australia’s AML compliance.

Most recently, the states’ casino and club sectors have come under scrutiny, exposing systemic cultural and compliance failures and deficiencies in their regulation. In particular, the potential for money-laundering has been shown, assisted by a culture of non‐compliance with obligations under the AML/CTF Act. In NSW at least, means to address this don’t seem to have the clubs’ or the government’s support.  See Project Islington Inquiry into Money Laundering via Electronic Gaming Machines in Hotels and Clubs, 26 October 2022.

As I wrote earlier, no-one would suggest there is deliberate delay by Australia, or the States, in complying with long outstanding international AML/CTF and other obligations.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.