Real estate wins another reprieve from money laundering laws

By Leith van Onselen

While New Zealand and Canada both implement rules to curb money laundering through property, Australia’s real estate gate keepers have been exempted once again. From The AFR:

The government had aimed to pass laws to cover these sectors before the end of this year, following a highly critical report from the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF)…

But the government confirmed the laws will not include the long-awaited coverage of lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents…

Anti-money laundering experts have warned that failing to crack down on the illicit flow of funds flows, including “hot money” from China, has added significantly to Australia’s housing affordability problem.

Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane.

The second tranche of anti-money laundering (AML) regulations capturing real estate agents, accountants, lawyers, and other non-financial businesses have remained in limbo in Australia since we first agreed to implement them in 2003, and have been delayed continuously by the Australian Government.

These delays are in spite of a veritable conga-line of reputable international organisations urging Australia to meet its global commitments to implement AML for real estate gatekeepers.

There has also been frequent reports suggesting that money laundering through Australian property is rife.

For example in 2015, the global regulator of money laundering – the Paris-based Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) – released its mutual evaluation report, which found Australian homes are a haven for laundered funds, particularly from China. In June 2017, FATF also placed Australia on a watch list for failing to comply with money laundering and terrorism financing reforms.

In March last year, Transparency International ranked Australia as having the weakest anti-money laundering (AML) laws in the Anglosphere, failing all 10 priority areas.

In December, the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions urged Australia to implement the second tranche of AML legislation covering real estate, noting that the entire ecosystem for the buying and selling property using cross-border fund flows is beyond the reach of regulators.

And in February, the Tax Justice Network released its Financial Secrecy Index for 2018, which joined the conga-line shaming Australia for failing to police the international dirty money flooding into the housing market.

The federal government conducted similar consultations on the AML second tranche in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017, all of which failed to deliver legislation as promised.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Australian Government has zero interest in policing this issue, and is complicit with the dirty foreign money flooding into Australia’s homes and robbing young Australians of a housing future.

What a corrupt little nation we have become led by corrupt leaders.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. Needs more mainstream coverage, most punters have no idea what AML are… and when they find out they don’t want it in because it will crush housing even more. They couldn’t care less about their own kids or grandkids. Sad state of affairs.

  2. Am half expecting the head of Interpol to be found guilty of expropriating funds to buy Australian property. If this comes to pass, you heard it here first 😉

  3. TailorTrashMEMBER

    And as we import more corrupt people so the corruption grows …….instead of being a small corrupt country
    we will become a big corrupt country and that corruption will become away of life ( it already is ) ….a kind of Nigeria in the South Pacific …..go straya !

  4. Better off eliminating AML laws and being a wild west tax shelter for the rich and filthy. The country is already half way there.

  5. I had a Chinese national (probably under a SIV VISA) arrested on my street in the upper north shore this week as some kind of king pin in a HUUUUGE narcotics ring.
    Guess what?
    He owns a house.
    Wonder where the money came from?