Australia’s financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC has reinforced that one of its key priorities this year is to stamp out criminals exploiting the clubs and pubs sector. 

It comes off the back of AUSTRAC announcing at the end of last year that its regulatory priorities for 2024 will be to focus on the money laundering risks faced by businesses – particularly across the banking, gambling, and remittance sectors, which face higher risks – and help them to understand, mitigate and manage these risks.

“AUSTRAC’s Regulatory priorities for 2024 calls out the gambling sector as an enduring area of focus,” an AUSTRAC spokesperson told Club Management

When asked how frequently criminals are laundering money through clubs across Australia, AUSTRAC explained that “some businesses will be at higher risk due to the size of their operations, the extent of their customer base and whether they offer gaming services across multiple establishments”.

“This is why AUSTRAC has for many years worked with the gambling sector, including pubs and clubs and their associations, to assist them in meeting their Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) obligations. This includes providing education material and examining their compliance.”

Currently, in NSW a trial into cashless gaming is underway. NSW gaming minister David Harris previously touted cashless gaming will help prevent money laundering activities in clubs.

“The strong interest in participating in the cashless gaming trial proves just how serious clubs and hotels are about working with the Government to reduce gambling harm and money laundering associated with electronic gaming machines,” Harris said.

“Regulated businesses, including pubs and clubs, are required by law to understand the money laundering and terrorism financing risks posed to their business, and to report on certain financial transactions and suspicious activities,” an AUSTRAC spokesperson said.

“If a pub or club suspects a money laundering offence is occurring on their premises they have an obligation under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Act to report this to AUSTRAC via a suspicious matter report (SMR).”

This piece was first published by our sister publication, Club Management.

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