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Aussie-UK anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism deal inked

AUSTRAC has partnered with a UK counterpart to fight fraud, the financial intelligence agency has announced.

Anglo-Australian collaboration to tackle financial fraud has been enhanced via a new AUSTRAC agreement with a similar British body.

The deepened ties came from financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC signing a memoranda of understanding (MOU) with both the Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) last Thursday (16 February) and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Monday (20 February).

Described as a clear signal of Australia’s ongoing commitment to “fight money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crime”, the agreements helped cement AUSTRAC ’s partnership with the UK “to intensify [the] fight against financial crime,” it explained.

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The FCA MOU was jointly signed in London by AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose and FCA CEO Nikhil Rathi.

Enhanced engagement for regulatory issues — including exchanging regulatory information and improving shared understanding of emerging trends, risks, and the compliance of businesses that operate in both the UK and Australia — is the shared aim.

Additionally, AUSTRAC’s MOU signing with HMRC between AUSTRAC’s Ms Rose and HMRC’s Simon York, director of its fraud investigation service, will generate opportunities through the exchange of regulatory information.

This will be to “strengthen operational collaboration between the two agencies”, and significantly “could result in joint anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing supervision,” the entities explained.

Combating global money laundering

According to Austrac, this “strong risk-based supervision” is critical to ensuring the effective implementation by industry of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing controls.

It added that these MOUs will “support improved supervisory practices and tools, and facilitate enhanced monitoring of businesses operating across both jurisdictions.”

Ms Rose commented that the signing of the MOUs with British regulators was a clear illustration of Australia and the UK’s commitment to working together to combat the global threat of money laundering, which enables a range of serious crimes.

“In our interconnected global environment, criminal and national security threats transcend borders, which is why Austrac is committed to working with international partners to exchange information and pool resources to combat financial crime,” Ms Rose explained.

“Money laundering enables a range of serious crimes to occur, from drug and human trafficking, to terrorism financing.

“The signing of these two MOUs cements Australia’s long-standing commitment to working with valued partners, like FCA and HRMC, to drive behavioural change and uplift capability across industry to create a hostile financial environment for organised crime.”

Keeping financial systems ‘safe’

HMRC director of the Fraud Investigation Service, Simon York, said: “This MOU will help our countries share information and intelligence in our joint fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, building on our already successful working relationship.”

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Australian government, using this MOU to better understand businesses that work across our two nations and better protecting our countries from serious and organised crime,” he explained.

Notably, AUSTRAC has the dual function of supervising regulated businesses and producing financial intelligence to share with partner agencies – domestic and international – to “keep Australia’s community and financial systems safe from serious organised crime”, it explained.

The MOUs with FCA and HMRC follow the signing of AUSTRAC's MOU with Great Britain Gambling Commission in January 2020 and complement the financial intelligence-focused MOU with the UK National Crime Agency, it confirmed.

[Related: ING strengthens ‘shortcomings’ in money laundering controls: AUSTRAC]

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