27 Jun 2019
Drug traffickers, tax evaders and other criminals are likely placing “significant” sums of dirty money into Australia’s real estate market, and could be affecting the cost of housing, according to a report by Australian TV network SBS.
While estimates of money laundering in the country remain vague, a 2015 report by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) concluded that suspicious transactions linked to Chinese nationals investing in Australian real estate totaled around $1 billion in a single year, SBS said.
Concerns that money launderers may view Australia as a favorable jurisdiction have prompted calls for legislation that would obligate real estate agents and lawyers to file suspicious activity reports to AUSTRAC. Prior efforts to implement such requirements have failed to make it out of the federal parliament.
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson told SBS News that he would forward a motion in Australia’s Senate next month seeking enactment of anti-money laundering legislation.
“This is good policy and it is absolutely essential reform,” he told the network. “There is an appetite in the Senate right now to get these laws through.”
A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said the government has been consulting on its next steps to address money laundering, according to the report.
The reforms under consideration would give Australian officials more power to obtain data, seize documents and prosecute violators, Whish-Wilson told SBS. But the sectors covered by the legislative proposals would need to develop their own risk-based compliance processes, he said.
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