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AUSTRAC

The "did he jump or was he pushed" departure of Brian Hartzer, the CEO of WestPac Banking Corporation in Australia after it became known that it had more than 23 million cases in which it did not act correctly under counter-money laundering laws is the latest example of a CEO going from his job under a cloud. In the past, that's usually been an end to at least some of the discussion. But this time it's different. This time the failures were so big and so fundamental that it calls into question conduct of the entire organisation including the full board and much of the management structure. It also raises something else. In large, complex, highly regulated groups, is the role of CEO too big for one person? As the financial services sector moves inexorably (and I would argue rightly) towards personal responsibility, is it time to review where responsibility lies in relation to specific areas of management.

CoNet Section: 

The trouble with looking for transactions ‘consistent’ with ‘known’ patterns ‘indicative’ of child exploitation payments to countries with ‘known’ risks is that countless legitimate payments exhibit similar features, says Dr Ron Pol of AML Assurance and La Trobe University.

BIScom Subsection: 

AUSTRAC, Australia’s anti money-laundering and terrorism financing regulator, has today applied to the Federal Court of Australia for civil penalty orders against Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac).

The civil penalty orders relate to systemic non-compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act). AUSTRAC alleges Westpac contravened the AML/CTF Act on over 23 million occasions.

BIScom Subsection: 

AUSTRAC has released a consultation paper relating to counter-money laundering regulations in the securities sector.

BIScom Subsection: 

CommBank troubles with AUSTRAC are so bad that, in a statement on the bank's website, it doesn't even get the FIU's name consistently right.

And as for shareholders, the statement is hardly worth the paper it isn't written on.

Aside from giving Digital Currency Exchanges a TLA (three letter acronym) AUSTRAC has sidestepped all the "is it, isn't it?" fuss in so many countries and stated the obvious: because digital currency is "money" in the economists' sense of the word, anyone operating an exchange is subject to the same rules and regulations as anyone operating an exchange in fiat currencies. But here's the surprise: the requirement to register with AUSTRAC and to put in place money laundering, etc compliance and risk management systems comes into force today. And the notice was only published this morning. Moreover, there is an unexpected consequence for the mainstream financial sector.

AUSTRAC statement

Are you a digital currency exchange provider?
16 January 2018 (updated 18 January)

It's going to cost ANZ about AUD5 million to compensate victims of the scheme that operated through the bank's Esanda car finance business. That's just part of what ASIC describes as "a package of regulatory actions against Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ)" But there's an anomaly of the kind that excites our colleagues on the financial crime publications group of PleaseBeInformed. But we got to this one first! Even more, the story looks like a simple management failure but on closer inspection it demonstrates a fundamental lack of attention to the most basic money laundering / terrorist financing KYC/CDD requirements. ASIC may think it's over. AUSTRAC needs to take a look.

BIScom Subsection: 

** access to this document is free **

14 December 2017

A further 100 alleged contraventions against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) have been filed today by AUSTRAC, the Government’s financial intelligence and regulatory body, adding to the current civil penalty proceedings.

It seemed like it was all over bar the shouting, or to be more precise, the haggling. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, CBA, admitted to the vast majority of the almost 54,000 failings listed in the civil penalty proceedings and in doing so entered what amounts to a plea in mitigation. AUSTRAC's response? To immediately file a further 100 allegations. That's just hostile litigation tactics and bordering on the malevolent, writes Nigel Morris-Cotterill, a former litigator.

The judgment in the AUSTRAC -v-Tabcorp civil case is a landmark: it's the first civil case that AUSTRAC has brought to a conclusion in court. But the judgment is only the latest step in a long running investigation and series of regulatory actions against the ASX-listed gambling giant.

AUSTRAC has issued a reminder to all businesses regulated for counter-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing purposes that annual reports are now due.

 


 

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