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AUSTRAC performs vital role in monitoring financial transactions.



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SENATOR THE HON CHRIS ELLISON MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CUSTOMS MANAGER OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN THE SENATE SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone: (02) 6277 7260 Facsimile: (02) 6273 7098

E102/06 17/10/2006

AUSTRAC performs vital role in monitoring financial transactions

There was a 44 per cent increase in the number of suspect transaction reports recorded by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) during 2005-06, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

Pro-active industry education programs, including increased communication with cash dealers and feedback on the quality of data reported had contributed to the increase, which had also resulted in improved compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulations.

AUSTRAC received over 13.8 million financial transaction reports (FTRs) from cash dealers, solicitors and members of the public; an increase of 10.38 per cent from the previous year. AUSTRAC recorded 2,416,427 significant cash transactions (5.59 per cent increase on 2004-05), and 11,411,961 international funds transfer instructions (up by 11.4 per cent over the previous year).

Senator Ellison said AUSTRAC played a vital role in targeting and deterring money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other major crime. AUSTRAC’s 2005-2006 Annual Report was tabled in Parliament today.

“AUSTRAC has played a crucial role in supporting the Australian Government’s commitment to counter-terrorism financing measures, balancing its role as a financial intelligence unit and regulator with its participation into the review of Australia’s anti-money

laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) framework,” said Senator Ellison.

AUSTRAC has worked closely with the Attorney-General’s Department, industry and other stakeholders during the legislative and consultation processes that constitute the review of Australia’s AML/CTF framework.

In anticipation of changes resulting from the review, the agency embarked on a change management process during the year which has seen a rise in recruitment and the positioning of AUSTRAC to take on a widened regulatory role.

Senator Ellison said “AUSTRAC has a challenge ahead in adapting to this changing regulatory role; however the agency has demonstrated strong strategic planning and leadership and I am confident that is well positioned to meet this challenge.” ../2

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AUSTRAC director Neil Jensen said: “In 2005-06 AUSTRAC continued to enhance systems to evaluate and improve data integrity and monitor the timeliness of financial transaction reports, while also managing an increase in volume.”

This ongoing work to enhance the value of FTR information has been recognised by AUSTRAC’s 29 partner agencies. In 2005-06 AUSTRAC’s FTR information was used in over 1,580 operational matters. FTR information contributed to more than $90.7 million in Australian Tax Office assessments during the year.

On an international scale, AUSTRAC developed exchange agreements with five countries in 2005-06, bringing the total number of countries with which Australia can exchange information and financial intelligence to 46.

“AUSTRAC’s work has contributed to an environment that is hostile to money laundering, the financing of terrorism and major crime. As a result, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to launder money or transfer illicit funds through the financial and gaming sectors without criminals coming under the radar of authorities,” said Senator Ellison.

“The Government is committed to working towards meeting the global standards on countering money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Copies of the AUSTRAC 2005-06 Annual Report and fact sheet are available from the AUSTRAC website www.austrac.gov.au.

Media inquiries: Matt Francis 0406 052 038 / 02 6277 7260