What Is AUSTRAC?
AUSTRAC is an agency appointed by the Australian Government that deals with protecting various aspects of financial transactions within Australia. This includes tax evasion, money laundering, organised crime, terror financing and welfare fraud.
AUSTRAC was established in 1989 due to the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988. The regulatory body has over 300 employees, and the agency executive is Nicole Rose. Their headquarters are in Sydney, and they actively monitor transactions of over $10,000.
Therefore, money transfer customers that send large amounts of money to Australia may have contact with AUSTRAC. They usually require the transactions to be documented and the reason for the transfer stated. The reports must be made with AUSTRAC within ten days of the transfer's execution.
What Is AUSTRAC Responsible for?
This section will take a deeper look at the responsibilities of AUSTRAC. This allows international money transfer customers to determine how their transactions are protected when sending funds to Australia.
The primary responsibilities of AUSTRAC include:
Using intelligence capabilities to gather information about transactions and follow up on questionable entries.
Information about crimes is shared with law enforcement agencies so they can better do their jobs in catching the criminals.
Developing new strategies to deal with the constantly evolving technological landscape within the finance sector
Look for vulnerabilities in the Australian finance sector and work with companies to plug them.
Support money transfer companies, businesses and other financial organisations to meet regulatory requirements.
Works with other domestic and international regulators to ensure that the Australian financial system is protected from criminal activity.
AUSTRAC can protect international money transfer customers by spotting fraudulent transactions leaving their accounts. For example, if an account were hacked, funds leaving the account could be stopped or frozen before too much damage is done.
In some cases, AUSTRAC may facilitate investigating where lost money has gone in an attempt to retrieve it for money transfer customers. However, reversing or stopping criminal activity is not always possible – AUSTRAC does its best to protect the general public and businesses alike.
Why Is AUSTRAC Important?
Now let us dive a little deeper into the importance of AUSTRAC. This section will highlight why you should care about this regulator and how they help the Australian financial markets. This information should allow you to place more trust in companies when sending money to Australia.
Reduces financial crime: AUSTRAC takes an active role in reducing the volume of financial crimes within Australia. This means that international money transfer customers can have confidence in the financial markets' integrity and the infrastructure used to move money around.
Investments: more confidence in financial markets means that investors will spend their money in the economy at a higher rate. This promotes the flourishing of the Australian economy.
More money transfer services: regulators like AUSTRAC also give confidence to money transfer services interested in expanding to other regions. It means that Australia can enjoy more services compared with other countries that do not have the same level of regulation.
Safeguards consumer money: reducing the volume of financial crime in the Australian economy ensures that fewer customers have to deal with their money being stolen or accounts hacked by bad actors.
Accountability: AUSTRAC has tight regulations and the authority to hand out sizable fines. This means that financial institutions are motivated to improve the security and practices of their organisations to avoid getting in trouble with AUSTRAC.
The list of enforcement actions taken by AUSTRAC includes civil penalty orders, enforceable undertakings, infringement notices and remedial directions. For example, an AUSTRAC case study where a fine was issued on 20 June 2018 involves the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The penalty was a massive $700 due to breaking the AML/CTF Act.
The fine was the biggest civil penalty in Australia’s history, and it reflects the seriousness of the work that AUSTRAC does to protect bank customers in Australia.
Now let us focus on the regulations, crimes, and industries that AUSTRAC is involved with. This will give you easy access to information about where this regulatory body is effective.
Regulations: the legislation that AUSTRAC is involved with includes AML/CTF Act, AML/CTF rules, Public Legal Interpretations, Financial Transaction Reports Act and Industry Contribution Legislation.
Crimes: AUSTRAC works hard to protect the general public and businesses from a variety of crimes, which include tax evasion, money laundering, organised crime, terror financing and welfare fraud. They also oversee Australia’s gambling industry and work on the crimes reported in that sector.
Industries: AUSTRAC is involved with businesses that are used to send or receive money in Australia. This includes regular companies and financial institutions like banks.
Accountability: Ultimately, AUSTRAC is accountable to the Australian Government, the people that use the financial system in Australia and the businesses within the country.
What Regions Does AUSTRAC Cover?
AUSTRAC is primarily responsible for eliminating financial crime in Australia, which includes every region within the country. However, to complete this job effectively, they also cooperate with regulators internationally. After all, stopping international money transfer crime is easier when you have colleagues on the other end assisting.
AUSTRAC has officers located in:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
London, United Kingdom
Washington DC, United States of America.
Also, the regulatory body frequently visits conferences internationally to exchange ideas and progress the financial security of Australia.
When Might You Encounter AUSTRAC?
You might encounter AUSTRAC when you need to declare that you have made a transfer of over $10,000. This must be done within ten days of executing the transfer. Furthermore, they might contact you if any transfer looks suspicious or if they need clarification.
AUSTRAC will also contact the victims of financial crimes during an investigation or to report a problem. Of course, this unfortunate set of circumstances is not ideal, but at least there is a regulatory body fighting in your corner.
AUSTRAC is actively policing the Australian financial system, involved with the day-to-day of investigating crimes and potential red flags. This means you may encounter the regulatory body in a variety of scenarios.
Can AUSTRAC Make New Rules?
AUSTRAC follows legislation that combines the rules they have made and those set by other regulators or the Austrian Government. Therefore, the rules they can set are under AML/CTF rules. Typically, the CEO of AUTRAC is the individual who will make these new rules.
They can be viewed publicly, and the changes are shared with the industry well before implementation. This gives the relevant financial organisations and customers a chance to adapt to the new rules.
How to Contact AUSTAC?
In this section, we will be taking a closer look at how you can contact AUSTRAC. This might be if you need to report a crime or want to share transactions that you are suspicious of fraudulent activity.
Top methods to contact AUSTRAC:
Social media: you can interact with AUSTRAC through social media portals like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.
Phone: call 1300 021 037 within Australia, and they will be charged at the local rate, and +61 299500055 for overseas inquires, but international charges may apply.
Form: you can also use the contact us form to fill out your questions, and you will get a reply to the email you have specified.
To summarise, AUSTRAC is a crucial regulatory body in Australia that deals with preventing crimes like money laundering, theft, organised crime and fraudulent transactions. They have the power to make new rules and work with international organisations to protect the Australian money transfer industry more effectively.
We encourage our readers to learn more about sending money to Australia. You can start with the guides Send Money from the United States to Australia and Send Money To Australia. Reading these guides will help you get the most competitive currency conversion rates, save money on fees and enjoy faster processing speeds than banks.