AUSTRAC has ordered the appointment of an external auditor to three entities within the Bell Financial Group, including Bell Potter Securities Limited, Bell Potter Capital Limited and Third Party Platform Pty Ltd.
The appointed external auditor will be authorised by AUSTRAC to assess the three entities’ compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act) and Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007 (No. 1) (AML/CTF Rules).
AUSTRAC has identified compliance concerns following a period of engagement with the Australian-based Bell Financial Group. Members of the Bell Financial Group are regulated by AUSTRAC and provide stockbroking, foreign exchange, loans, investment and financial advisory services.
The external auditor must report to AUSTRAC within 180 days of being appointed and will examine the three entities’ compliance with:
- The requirement to have an AML/CTF program and comply with Part A of that program
- The requirement to have an ongoing customer due diligence program
- Suspicious matter report reporting obligations
- Maintenance of enrolment details within required timeframes.
AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer, Nicole Rose PSM said the AML/CTF regime is in place to protect businesses, the financial system and the Australian community from criminal threats.
“Australian financial services businesses have a responsibility to ensure they devote the necessary resources and processes to comply with their AML/CTF obligations under the law. “
“We will continue to work closely with Bell Financial Group to address any compliance concerns, and take action where any businesses that we regulate are failing to appropriately protect themselves and Australia’s financial system from criminal activity.” Ms Rose said.
The extent of the auditor’s examination is determined by AUSTRAC and will be at Bell Financial Group’s expense.
The outcomes of the audit will assist the three businesses with their compliance and inform AUSTRAC whether any further regulatory action is required.
External Audit under section 162(2) of the AML/CTF Act
AUSTRAC has the power to require a reporting entity to appoint an external auditor to examine the reporting entity’s compliance with the AML/CTF Act and the AML/CTF Rules.
The basis of a s 162(2) Audit is reasonable grounds to suspect that the reporting entity has contravened, is contravening, or proposes to contravene the AML/CTF Act or the AML/CTF Rules.