AUSTRAC unveils regulatory priorities for 2024

With fight against money laundering, terrorism financing, and other serious crimes as focus

AUSTRAC unveils regulatory priorities for 2024


By Mina Martin

AUSTRAC has outlined its regulatory priorities for the upcoming year, emphasising a commitment to enhancing the financial system’s resilience against money laundering, terrorism financing, and other serious crimes.

AUSTRAC’s primary focus remains on bolstering businesses’ understanding and management of risks associated with money laundering and terrorism financing, particularly within sectors such as banking, gambling, and remittance, which inherently face higher risks.

Pete Soros (pictured above), AUSTRAC acting CEO, highlighted the importance of collaborating with businesses to pinpoint potential areas for improvement at an early stage, to prevent them from evolving into systemic challenges.

“These priorities signal our ongoing intent to work with businesses to embed a culture of vigilance, ensuring everyone at every level is aware of the threat of financial abuse and criminal exploitation,” Soros said.

“Criminals target businesses with weak anti-money laundering settings, which is why AUSTRAC’s regulation, through education and supervision, is crucial to safeguarding Australia’s communities and financial systems from financial harm.”

AUSTRAC’s regulatory priorities for 2024 revolve around hardening regulated sectors against criminal misuse, with a specific focus on combating money laundering, terrorism financing, and other serious crimes. The organization plans to use its regulatory tools to ensure reporting entities understand and comply with their obligations under the AML/CTF Act.

The regulatory priorities for 2024, as outlined by AUSTRAC, center around four enduring priorities:

  • Money laundering and terrorism-financing (ML/TF) risk: Emphasising the need to understand, mitigate, and manage ML/TF risk as the cornerstone of the AML/CTF framework.
  • AML/CTF programs: Highlighting the importance of effective AML/CTF programs that outline how reporting entities will comply with the AML/CTF Act and AML/CTF rules.
  • Reporting: Stressing the significance of accurate, timely, and high-quality reporting to AUSTRAC, including international funds transfer instructions (IFTI), threshold transaction reports (TTR), and suspicious matter reports (SMR).
  • High-risk sectors: Continuing focus on the banking, gambling, and remittance sectors, recognizing their exposure to significant criminal threats and vulnerabilities.

While AUSTRAC will concentrate its regulatory activities on the specified priority areas, it retains the capacity to investigate other areas essential for compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) obligations.

Sectors experiencing rapid growth, significant concerns about AML/CTF compliance, and substantial variation in compliance levels, including digital currency exchanges (DCEs), payment platforms, bullion, and non-bank lenders and financiers, are earmarked for increased scrutiny by AUSTRAC.

AUSTRAC’s proactive approach aims to address emerging issues promptly, signaling potential increased engagement, assessments, notifications, and, in some cases, enforcement actions to ensure compliance and protect against financial crime.

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