LegalWhat is AUSTRAC, and how does it help society?

What is AUSTRAC, and how does it help society?


AUSTRAC is an Australian government agency in charge of detecting and disrupting criminal abuse of the financial system to keep society safe from any severe crime. AUSTRAC collects, organises, and analyses financial reports and information to generate financial intelligence through intensified intelligence capabilities and strong regulation. It was launched in 1989 and is headquartered in Canberra, Australia. 

AUSTRAC reporting can be organised into departments that show their responsibility: Intelligence, Capability, Strategy, Regulation, education, and policy. They operate under the authority of the financial transaction report Act 1988 and the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financial act 2006. 

With new emerging technologies changing the way to deliver financial services, AUSTRAC finds itself working as the disrupted financial landscape in a globalised economy. 


Reporting Threshold: While handling transactions of 10,000 AUD or more, it is always advisable for companies in Australia to submit their Threshold Transaction Reports (TTRs) to AUSTRAC. The transactions include either receiving or paying cash. Any firm doing a threshold transaction must submit a TTRs within ten days from the transaction date. However, the rules for motor vehicle dealers who provide insurance-related services are slightly different. Any motor vehicle firm that acts as the insurer or an insurance mediator will have to follow the necessary norms and submit Significant Cash Transaction Reports (SCTRs). 

International Fund Transfers: For fund transfers outside the country, AUSTRAC reporting has slightly different rules and regulations. For any amount of funds transferred, by whichever means, into or outside Australia, firms are advised to submit international funds transfer instruction reports (IFTIs) to AUSTRAC. There are two types of IFTIs. 

1) IFTI-Es, which are made by financial institutions and apply to money transfers. 

2) IFTI-DRAs are made by anyone – businesses, individuals or organisations – but not by any financial institutions. IFTI-DRAs also apply to money or property transfers.

Cross Border Movement: The Australian parliament 2020 passed an Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act amendment. Under the amended rules, any person who moves physical currency equal to or more than 10000 AUD in or out of Australia must present a Cross Border Movement (CBM) detail to AUSTRAC within five days of the transaction. The reports are stored securely, and AUSTRAC and a limited number of partner agencies like law enforcement have permission to access those reports. Failing to submit a CBM report to AUSTRAC, penalties are rolled out. An individual has penalised 12 units, while 60 penalty units are put on for a corporate body. 

Suspicious Matters: Whenever a suspicious activity of any kind is found, the firms must report it to AUSTRAC within 72 hours of noticing the crime. If the suspicious activity is related to terrorism, a firm is advised to report it within 24 hours. Immediate action is advisable for the firms identifying suspicious activities since the SMRs play a crucial role in determining the culprit and ensuring more secure transaction systems. Timely SMRs give the government the best opportunity to detect and disrupt criminal and terrorist activity.

Wrapping it up:

AUSTRAC operates closely with financial institutions across the country to address criminal methodology and regulatory changes. It plays a vital role in covering the Australian community and economy by building strength in the financial system and disrupting money laundering, terrorism financing, and other severe organised crime. 

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