AUSTRAC “ON THE HUNT” FOR AML/CTF OFFENDERS

Leigh Barrett and Associates (LBA) regularly meets with AUSTRAC officers regarding Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) matters.  On each occasion LBA is reminded that one of AUSTRAC’s “biggest headaches” is the broad-based EGM gaming and wagering clubs and hotels across Australia.

At our last meeting with AUSTRAC (the regulator), we were advised that “the last 2 years [AUSTRAC] has focussed on the banking sector, now [AUSTRAC] is focussed back on gaming and wagering.”  The regulator is auditing clubs and hotels to make sure that:

  1. The venue operator has a compliant and current AML/CTF Program [the Program] in place;
  2. The AML/CTF Risk Assessment for the venue has been conducted and is current (this needs to be done at least annually or whenever a venue introduces any changes to the delivery of its designated services;
  3. Relevant staff have been adequately trained in their responsibilities under the AML/CTF Act and Rules (and that staff understand their responsibilities);
  4. Club Boards and Committees are knowledgeable about their AML/CTF obligations;
  5. Venues can demonstrate that they are actually doing what they say they are doing in their AML/CTF Programs; and
  6. Independent reviews of the operation of their AML/CTF Program is conducted regularly.

One well-known case found that a patron, a regular at the venue to the venue, was constantly buying EGM-winning cheques from patrons to legitimise the otherwise-suspect money.  A staff member interviewed by media admitted “The [Venue] is just wide open, allowing it to happen.  They are having a free run.  You’d think head office would look at it and say, ‘what is going on there?’  They don’t.”

The penalties for any breach of the AML/CTF legislation or Rules can now be in excess of $22Million and the penalties to individuals exceeding $2Million – or prison.

It’s just not worth the risk!!

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