Public servants monitoring financial intelligence on Russia

By Melissa Coade

June 28, 2022

Nicole Rose
AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

AUSTRAC has mobilised a dedicated team of mandarins to assist DFAT’s Australian Sanctions Office (ASO), AFP, and other commonwealth partners with detecting economic sanctions evasion.

The government entity said the intelligence team would watch and triage financial reporting about Russian sanctions, including reports concerning suspicious matters and international funds transfers.

“Australia’s sanctions regime relies on effective monitoring and reporting of sanctions non-compliance and financial crime risk mitigation from industry,” a statement on the AUSTRAC website said. 

“[This ensures] that those responsible for Russia’s actions are unable to benefit from access to the Australian financial system.”

Earlier this year the Australian government announced a range of sanctions against Vladimir Putin and Russian elites from the government, military, business and media. The laws were in direct response to Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine. Conscious of the escalating threat of a Russian invasion, Australian embassy staff departed Ukraine in February

According to AUSTRAC, the intelligence team will ‘produce actionable financial intelligence’, which the AFP and ASO can use to detect sanctions evasion. 

As the national sanctions regulator, the ASO publishes the official consolidated list of persons and entities subject to Australian sanctions law. It also provides guidance on sanctions through outreach, training seminars, online information.

The ASO also works with Defence, Home Affairs and Australian Border Force (ABF) to monitor compliance with Australian sanctions law and respond to breaches.

“AUSTRAC is also part of international efforts to coordinate effective financial intelligence sharing to combat sanctions evasion,” the online statement said.

“AUSTRAC is part of the Russia-Related Illicit Finance and Sanctions (RRIFS) FIU Working Group which is a coordinated effort to track the movement of funds around the world and to identify opportunities to jointly target individuals and entities subject to sanctions.”

Through the international working group, AUSTRAC will exchange financial intelligence about the networks and facilitators suspected of helping individuals and entities subject to sanctions.

“In particular, we are considering the abuse of shell companies and other corporate structures, and the use of third countries to distance sanctioned persons and entities from their assets,” AUSTRAC said.

People with information about suspicious sanctions or proliferation financing must submit a suspicious matter report to AUSTRAC as per the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

To stay up-to-date on Australia’s sanctions laws and the consolidated sanctions list, subscribe to DFAT’s mailing list.


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