AUSTRAC launches campaign against illegal money transfer dealers

AUSTRAC has launched a campaign targeting illegal money transfer dealers.

Money transfer dealers that have not registered with AUSTRAC and are operating illegally are at a high risk of having their services abused by criminals groups and do not have the same level of risk protections in place as registered money transfer businesses.

Money transfer businesses that are not a financial institution such as a bank or credit union offer a valuable service to their customers and communities by allowing them to send money to family and friends overseas.

In 2018/19 individuals and businesses reported $60 billion worth of international funds transfer instructions sent and received by people in Australia using registered money transfer services. In the same year there were around 17.3 million transactions reported through Australia’s registered remittance sector.

AUSTRAC CEO, Nicole Rose, said unregistered money transfer dealers represent a real threat to Australian communities as they are used as havens for criminals to move money to fund their criminal activities.

“Money laundering enables criminal activity that causes real harm to Australians, such as human trafficking, child exploitation, illegal firearm sales and drug trafficking.

Registered money transfer businesses play an important role in protecting Australia’s financial system from criminal abuse.

They are required to put in place appropriate safeguards to harden and protect their business against criminals who try to use them to launder their dirty money. Supporting unregistered money transfer dealers can potentially attract criminals into a community,” Ms Rose said.

To raise public awareness of the risks posed by illegal money transfer dealers, AUSTRAC is conducting a community campaign. AUSTRAC staff will be visiting communities and registered businesses across Australia to talk about the threat that unregistered money transfer dealers pose, and how people can anonymously report suspected unregistered dealers. Community members are being encouraged to use registered money transfer businesses listed on AUSTRAC’s website.

The campaign will see a series of town hall meetings held in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane to raise awareness of the community risks associated with unregistered money transfer dealers throughout September to November.

“Dealers who are providing an unregistered money transfer service must stop now and contact AUSTRAC to begin the registration process,” Ms Rose said.

There are large penalties for businesses who fail to register with AUSTRAC, including fines of up to $420,000, seven years’ jail, or both.

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