Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Calls for crackdown on money laundering -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

CHRIS UHLMANN: Federal police are battling to confiscate nearly $30 million that's believed to be the proceeds of a Russian money laundering racket.

The money is sitting in Gold Coast bank accounts which nine Russian nationals set up during visits to the tourism Mecca.

The founder of the Russian chapter of Transparency International says the case is a sign Australia needs to overhaul its money laundering protections. She wants Australia to lead by example ahead of the G20 summit in Brisbane this year.

Stephanie Smail reports.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Elena Punfiliva says the battle over the Russian millions is proof Australia is an easy target.

The Transparency International boss says Australian banks should be asking more questions.

ELENA PUNFILIVA: A little bit too late to ask through police procedure, through investigation procedure. In theoretically ideal world, those questions should be asked when money come, by banks, by financial system, "is this million ok? Is this million not going to cause us here troubles?"

If that is not in place then the answer is yes, it's easy to bring questionable money to the country.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: The Russians claim to be wealthy business people.

But the Australian Federal Police (AFP) argues their fortune is "entirely incompatible" with the income they declared.

The AFP says there's reasonable grounds to suspect the money is the proceeds of crime.

Professor Jason Sharman is a leading researcher in corruption and money laundering at Griffith University.

He says it's a sizeable sum.

JASON SHARMAN: It's pretty big by Australian standards. The worry is that for every one case of dirty money you turn up, there are 10 or maybe even 100 that have got away with it. So there's always the worry that there's in fact a lot more money out there that's not being caught.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Elena Punfiliva is meeting with other global corruption fighters in Brisbane this week.

They're devising a plan to lobby G20 leaders on better ways to battle cross-border crime.

She says the G20 designed an anti-corruption plan six years ago, but now it needs to be implemented.

ELENA PUNFILIVA: Secrecy of offshore companies, shell companies, secrecy which hide and masks corrupt money travelling globally. G20 wants it to be better world, then they need to clean the house of financial transactions, of registers of companies of control over who owns what.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: Jason Sharman agrees there aren't enough protections in the Australian banking system to stop money laundering.

He says banks do report international money transfers to monitoring agencies, but that's often where the information stops.

JASON SHARMAN: Often the agencies that have the data don't talk to each other that much or that each one thinks it's the other’s job.

So for example, in looking at making sure that banks ask the questions they should about sources of wealth, sometimes you have Austrac thinking that the Federal Police are doing that job and the Federal Police think that Austrac is doing the job.

So in fact neither of them do it.

STEPHANIE SMAIL: The AFP was due to lodge a order to confiscate the Russian millions in the District Court today, but that's been postponed until August.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Stephanie Smail.