Australian body, private sector partner to combat ‘serious financial crimes’

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A man counts foreign banknotes at a money changer in central Cairo, Egypt, December 27, 2016. Picture taken December 27, 2016. Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The Australian government partners with the private sector in an effort to stop “serious financial crimes.” Money laundering and terrorism will specifically be targeted.

The latest Fintel Alliance gathers 19 partners that include the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and some of the largest banks in the country. Australian Taxation Office, Western Union and fintech giant PayPal have agreed to participate in the move.

Federal justice minister Michael Keenan said the new government and private sector alliance will focus on “terror financiers and gangs who deal in proceeds of crime, as well as white-collar criminals who think their crimes are victimless.” The government is aiming for an international network and had allegedly linked up with the British Intelligence Unit.

Fintel Alliance also runs an “innovation hub” that will test financial products, which can be executed through a team work between public and private sectors. “We aim to make Australia the most difficult jurisdiction in the world for organised crime and terrorism financiers to operate in,” Business Insider quoted AUSTRAC chief executive, Paul Jevtovic, saying.

In line with its objective to catch criminals, a new team of university-educated financial sleuths is reportedly being prepared by the government. A pilot for the Financial Intelligence Analyst Course is reportedly already in the works with 16 participants.

Keenan assured that there will be more actions to be taken in order to prevent serious financial crimes. “This is just the first step in creating a new breed of highly specialised serious financial crime fighters to protect our national security,” he said.

FIAC ultimately aims to produce specialists needed for the strengthening of the country’s national intelligence community. Keenan said this can be achieved through harnessing the expertise and knowledge of industry and government.

The federal justice minister has further shared that all the FIAC participants will undergo training needed to chase serious financial crime, profits of organised crime, as well as terrorism financing. Keenan believes that the course is pivotal as organised crime and terrorism financing have become more sophisticated.

The curriculum covers several issues, such as money laundering, organised crime, terrorist financing, darknet marketplaces and the improper use of cryptocurrencies. According to AUSTRAC’s official website, money laundering corrupts with legal transactions in various areas, which include banking and finance, casinos and gaming, real estate and luxury vehicles, international trade, and international remittance and foreign exchange services.