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Australia hosts meeting to fight global money laundering and terrorist financing.

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Minister for Justice and Customs

Joint News Release

Minister for Justice and Customs Senator the Hon Chris Ellison

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Senator the Hon Ian Campbell

25 July 2003

Australia Hosts Meeting to Fight Global Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Senator Ian Campbell, today welcomed the successful outcomes of the 11th annual meeting of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) held in Sydney this week.

"The Egmont Group is one of the world's leading forums for fostering cooperation between international financial intelligence bodies and contributing to the success of the global fight against money laundering, revenue evasion and the financing of terrorism," Senator Ellison said.

Hosted by AUSTRAC, Australia's elite financial intelligence unit, this year's Egmont Group meeting was attended by nearly 200 delegates and observers from some 80 jurisdictions and 10 international organisations involved in anti-money laundering and counter- terrorist financing activities.

"AUSTRAC's hosting of the meeting highlights Australia's strong commitment to countering money laundering, revenue evasion and terrorist financing by fostering closer working relationships between countries and international bodies to combat these activities," Senator Ellison said.

As part of this commitment, AUSTRAC established a further six important agreements for the exchange of financial intelligence with international counterparts including Guernsey, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, South Africa and Venezuela.

"This is an important step in strengthening the international network we are building to prevent and detect the financing of terrorism, money laundering and other serious crimes and will complement the already strong relationships we have in place with international law enforcement agencies," Senator Ellison said.

Senator Campbell, addressing the Egmont Group today, said money laundering was a massive global problem, totalling as much as $US2 trillion, or two per cent of world


"These vast sums of money are the proceeds of serious fraud, drug trafficking and trans-national crime," he said.

"Money laundering reduces economic growth, destabilises financial markets, undermines the private sector and erodes the authority and stability of legitimate governments.

"The methods and techniques used to launder money and to finance terrorism are constantly changing. As the international community acts on one front, the terrorists and criminals attempt to exploit or create another opportunity.

"Modern technology has allowed terrorist networks to expand and increase their capacity to operate faster and wider. One of the biggest challenges in the fight against this evil is to use that technology to build more effective systems to cut off terrorists' financial supply lines and starve them of the funds that keep them alive.

"All countries have different levels of expertise, skills and strengths and it is imperative that we share our knowledge and resources if we are to maximise our efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism.

"These are global problems demanding a global response," Senator Campbell said.

Key decisions made at the meeting included:

● Acceptance of 15 new members to the Egmont Group, including Malaysia, whose

membership was sponsored by Australia through AUSTRAC, ● agreement on new international best practices for the exchange of financial

intelligence between FIUs, ● meetings of a range of working groups and regional subgroups to progress legal,

training and development issues; and ● endorsement of the new Egmont Group public website to be launched in the near


"It is very pleasing to see that the scope of international cooperation has increased with the admission of 15 new FIUs to the Egmont Group, bringing the total Egmont membership to 84 jurisdictions," Senator Ellison said.

Senator Ellison and Senator Campbell congratulated the Egmont Group on these outcomes and highlighted the opportunities they provided to enhance international cooperation between members and to support those jurisdictions which were developing new financial intelligence capabilities.

"By holding these meetings in Sydney, AUSTRAC has also been given an opportunity to showcase the leading edge anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing programmes we have in place in Australia and to demonstrate the efforts being undertaken to address these threats throughout our region," Senator Ellison said.

"By fostering closer working relationships through meetings like the Egmont Group,

AUSTRAC will be able to enhance the exchange of financial intelligence, adding important value to Australia's law enforcement and revenue programmes, especially with regard to counter-terrorism, financial crime and illicit drug trafficking."

Media Contact: Michael Barrett (Sen. Ellison's office) 02/6277 7260 or 0419 424 359 Wayne Grant (Sen. Campbell's office) 08/9325 4227 or 0407 845 280