Anti-money laundering legislation delay a let-off for estate agents

Anti-money laundering legislation delay a let-off for estate agents
Anti-money laundering legislation delay a let-off for estate agents

Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants won't face the toughest new anti-money laundering measures as the federal government has delayed its full crackdown on the professions.

Australia has been promising to introduce comprehensive "tranche 2" laws since 2006 – but the Department of Home Affairs confirmed it will instead seek "phase 1.5" laws as a transitional step.

The laws will clarify aspects of Australia's money laundering offences.

But anti-money laundering experts have warned that failing to crack down on illicit funds flows, including 'hot money' from China, has added significantly to Australia's housing affordability problem, Thomson Reuters head of financial crime intelligence Nathan Lynch said.

There was a highly critical report from the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) three years ago that warned Australia's real estate sector was at significant risk for money laundering.

"The government is currently preparing a bill to amend the Anti‑Money Laundering and Counter‑Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act)," a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs told Fairfax Media.

"Timing for introduction is subject to the parliamentary schedule."

The new legislation is expected to include changes to the "tipping-off" rules and other secrecy provisions to allow more sharing of information between the government and private sector, including with foreign partners.

The bill will also simplify reporting requirements for cross-border movements of cash or bearer negotiable instruments.

But the government confirmed the laws will not include the long-awaited coverage of lawyers, accountants and real estate agents.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) estimates organised crime costs the Australian community $36 billion each year and "the most common professions exploited by organised crime include lawyers, accountants, financial and tax advisers, registered migration agents, stockbrokers, real estate agents and customs brokers", their report said.

Tags: 
Estate Agents Money Laundering

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