Launderers lean on tech options
Authorities say cryptocurrencies are are among new methods of money laundering by sophisticated criminals.
Brad Brown, deputy chief executive of the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), says money launderers and criminal groups are turning to superannuation, stored value travel cards and cryptocurrencies to move illicit money.
“In Australia's superannuation sector we found there is a medium risk of money being laundered,” Mr Brown said.
“There are different risks across every finance services sector that AUSTRAC regulates.
“Certainly where there is a greater amount of money flowing through a particular industry you are exposed to a greater number of risks.”
AUSTRAC is the host of a summit of The Egmont Group, a multinational group comprising 350 financial intelligence experts from 150 financial intelligence units meeting in Sydney.
“There's an enormous amount of money flowing around the world. We often call it the super highway of transactions,” Mr Brown said.
“There's the whole complexity and sophistication of technology and the amount of data we receive and process.”
The rise of stored value cards used for travellers is a growing threat too, according to AUSTRAC.
“In relation to stored value travel cards we have done a risk assessment and it is a medium risk for money laundering and terrorism financing,” Mr Brown said.
Cryptocurrencies present a number of challenges for financial intelligence as well.
Earlier this year, AUSTRAC was given regulatory oversight to monitor suspicious transactions on the ‘dark web’.
“The most significant unlawful uses are purchases of illicit products through dark nets and the dark web and to purchase more abhorrent products such as child pornography,” Mr Brown said.
“Criminals being what they are will look for every loophole and every gap that is possibly out there.”