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ACAMS Australasia Highlights the Importance of Strong AML Compliance

ACAMS Australasia is arguably the most important annual conference for professionals in anti-money laundering. The event brings together key members of government and industry, including regulators, technology, finance, and other payment providers. It’s an opportunity for all sides of compliance and anti-money laundering to discuss industry changes, share insights, and deepen network connections.

Our top takeaways this year focus on four key themes:

  • tackling resource challenges across the industry 
  • the need for increased collaboration between regulators and industry, 
  • what regulators are focusing on, and
  • the role of modern technology in fighting financial crime

Tackling resource challenges across the industry

Resources are a persistent struggle for many businesses, from large banks to smaller payment providers. And, if anything, ACAMS highlighted the breadth of the issue right across the industry.

Nicole Rose, CEO of AUSTRAC, addressed this during ACAMS. She noted how resources were a struggle for many. Her sentiment was supported by Gavin Cole, Consultant at Kasker. During the conference, he discussed how resource-stretched many businesses are and shared the likelihood of more risk and complexity coming as Tranche 2 increases demand on qualified AML professionals.

Gary offered an alternative approach to managing limited resources in compliance teams and suggested perhaps rather than adding more, the problem can be alleviated by doing less. “Stop doing things that don’t make sense,” he said, “things that aren’t efficient.”

Look at ways to use technology to fill gaps and resolve human resource challenges. That could include using Saas providers to resolve specific issues, updating legacy technology to improve transaction monitoring processes, or acquiring verification systems to reduce onboarding time.

Collaboration is key to success

One of the most important trends across ACAMS was collaboration. Whether fighting financial crime or building strong internal AML/CTF programs, collaboration between regulators, law enforcement, and industry is essential.

Rose expressed the importance and value of cooperation in fighting crime, saying:
“Serious financial crime continues to evolve, with transnational serious and organised crime groups harnessing new technologies, professional facilitators, and offshore service providers, to exploit vulnerabilities and launder the proceeds of their crime. At AUSTRAC, it is the specialist skill-set of our highly competent analysts – and our robust partnerships and collaboration with industry and intelligence partners – that enables us to provide critical intelligence to law enforcement that has directly led to arrests and convictions.”

The benefits of working together apply to more than just the broad fight against money laundering and illicit activities. Positive effects are felt at a more local level as internal compliance programs within banks and other regulated entities are strengthened and streamlined (particularly as the use of regtech increases); policy and policy implementation are made more robust, too.

David Shannon—Director, Mutual Evaluations, Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG)—also discussed the importance of cooperation between other jurisdictions and suggested that “there are a lot of lessons to take from other countries” in both the private sector and government.

What regulators are focusing on

During her keynote address, Rose shared details of where AUSTRAC will be focusing its attention, saying:

“Around 2019, we started to invest more resources in the gambling sector, in recognition of the unique risks and challenges posed by casinos, betting agencies, and pubs and clubs. We also dealt more deeply with the remittance sector in targeted campaigns, commenced the registration of the newly emerging digital currency exchanges (DCE), and engaged with new businesses such as the buy now pay later sector.”

Last year AUSTRAC released a guide for pubs and clubs, outlining their AML/CTF responsibilities and how to build a solid internal compliance program. The guide was then followed up with an educational campaign that included over 200 in-person visits and ongoing support for relevant pubs and clubs.

As attention on money laundering from the government and media continues to build, we expect to see more investigations and fines coming from AUSTRAC.

The role of technology in building strong AML defences

Modern technology has a critical role to play in elevating AML programs within companies, increasing efficiency, and effectiveness in fighting financial crime.

One of the gaping holes in Australia’s AML defence is the lack of regulation for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs). Discussion about whether (and when) to implement regulatory reforms (Tranche 2) have been swirling around for over a decade. A major ongoing argument against the reforms is the perceived cost of compliance.

Some suggest the cost of meeting AML/CTF obligations will be too much of a burden for smaller businesses. However, as was highlighted at the conference, modern technology offers many viable compliance solutions at a low cost.

John Rayment, CEO of Identitii, said, “there is a whole host of cost-effective solutions that can (assist with delivering) compliance…regtechs are thinking about how they can help those businesses.”

And the benefits extend further than just meeting compliance needs. Modern tech solutions also improve your ability to make better products. “The better technology you have, you will likely comply better, but also win new business. Don’t just come from a compliance angle. Consider the business angle and combine the two.”

 

Missed us at ACAMS Australasia 2022?

If you missed Identitii at the event, reach out today. Identiti works with financial institutions, payment providers, and other regulated entities to automate AML/CTF transaction reporting to regulators, like AUSTRAC.

To find out more about how you can increase automation and improve visibility into your IFTI, TTR, and SMR reporting, connect with us today.

Identitii’s compliance reporting platform helps you to automate AML/CTF transactions in a fast, safe, and secure way. To learn more about how our platform can assist with your regulatory reporting, click here.

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