Late last year, the CEO of AUSTRAC – the government agency tasked with detecting, deterring and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system – called on the federal government implement anti-money laundering (AML) laws pertaining to real estate gatekeepers, warning that lawyers, accountants and real estate agents were being used to launder illicit money through Australian property.
Nathan Lynch – Asia-Pacific manager, Regulatory Intelligence, for Thomson Reuters – reports at MichaelWest.com.au that the Australian Government continues to balk at implementing its Tranche 2 AML rules pertaining to designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), namely real estate gatekeepers.
Australia agreed to implement these Tranche 2 AML rules 15 years ago. However, the power of the lawyers’, accountants’ and real estate lobbies has stopped their introduction every time they have sought to be introduced.
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The federal government has also pushed AUSTRAC to the side of international discussions surrounding AML rules, replacing it with officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The end result is that AUSTRAC has been “muzzled, mogged and muted” by the federal government, resulting in Australia becoming a safe haven for illicit money laundering through Australian property:
Australia lags jurisdictions such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand when it comes to regulating gatekeeper professions. It is one of only six FATF member countries that fail on all three of the recommendations relating to gatekeeper professions (DNFBPs)…
Nicole Rose, chief executive of AUSTRAC, said the lead agency on all DNFBP law reform matters was now the Department of Home Affairs…
The Australian Federal Police and AUSTRAC, meanwhile, have been increasingly gathering evidence that gatekeeper professions are involved, both wittingly and unwittingly, in money laundering.
…Australia’s lawyers, accountants and property market are open for business. Any business.
The Coalition and Labor proved they were owned by the powerful property, accountancy and legal industries when they last year voted down an amendment to the Money laundering bill requiring the minister to pull real estate gatekeepers into the AML regulatory net.
Such reforms have been introduced in all but six nations around the world and have been promised by Australia since 2006.
The upshot is that Australia will remain a strong magnet for dirty money via the property market.
There’s no other way to put it. The Coalition and Labor are corrupt.
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