AUSTRAC’s latest fine “is a timely reminder” the authorities’ attitude towards the financial sector is changing

The Australian authority fighting financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism has issued an AUS$252,000 infringement notice against Compass, the foreign exchange company.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is concerned that Compass may have failed to introduce adequate systems and processes in place to identify, mitigate and manage the risk of financial crimes.

“AUSTRAC is working with Compass, to ensure they understand their compliance obligations,” said Nicole Rose, CEO of AUSTRAC. “Where businesses don’t comply with the law, AUSTRAC will not hesitate to take action to protect Australia’s financial system and the community from criminal activity.”

She added, “Money laundering funds and enables terrorism and serious organised crime that causes harm to Australians such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, child exploitation and illegal firearm sales.”

Anthony Quinn, founder and CEO of Arctic Intelligence, the RegTech company specializing in anti-money-laundering (AML) compliance, commented, “This is a timely reminder to all 14,700 reporting entities in Australia that AUSTRAC are changing their enforcement posture and are starting to take action for non-compliance with AML laws.

“If you are a reporting entity and need help understanding your ML/TF risks, building an appropriate control framework or conducting a [health check, as in an independent review,] of the design and operational effectiveness of your systems, procedures and controls please get in touch.”

Australian authorities have been busy over the past few years after the Australian Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry reported major ethical and cultural problems with how the sector was run in the past.

As a result, the government and regulators have been hard at work at turning the financial industry around. Part of that has been paving the way for a slew of challenger banks disrupting the traditional banking sector. Another one is how the authorities are clamping down on irregularities in the sector.

There have been some results. In August, AUSTRAC announced that it has faced a massive spike in companies disclosing breaches to AML rules.

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