How Australia’s doomed charities regulator fights terrorism

Australia’s charities regulator plays an important but little-known role making sure money doesn’t flow to overseas terrorist groups. But the agency is still on the chopping block.

There could be an unintended consequence of axing Australia’s charities regulator: it might hamper counter-terrorism efforts.

While the Abbott government tries to convince senators to support the abolition of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the Melbourne-based agency is quietly working to prevent charitable donations ending up in the hands of terrorists. This week, the commission reminded not-for-profit organisations of their particular vulnerability to “the risk of misuse for the purpose of terrorism financing”, as stated in recent reports from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and the international Financial Action Task Force.

In October, commissioner Susan Pascoe told The Mandarin the ACNC had developed a unique counter-terrorism role that would be missed if it was axed. “It’s hard to see who would have the [same] oversight of activity, if we didn’t have an independent regulator,” she said. “It’s not the kind of role that the [Australian Securities and Investments Commission] or the [Australian Tax Office] would logically inherit.”

Pascoe says the ACNC helped Australia fulfil its obligations as an FATF member to support the work of the inter-governmental organisation, which claims its policy recommendations “are recognised as the international standard for combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction”.

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  • Ted Sherwood

    I read this article but am still little wiser how the ACNC actually contributes to the identification of terrorist financing. And I note that such financing is ‘rare.