AUSTRAC launches betting AML specialist unit days after UK MoU

Australia’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), has stepped up its efforts against money laundering, particularly relating to the gambling sector.

Spokespeople for the government agency revealed at the Regulate the Game 2023 conference this week that a new specialist unit has been created with a specific anti-money laundering (AML) in betting remit.

Bradley Brown, AUSTRAC Manager of Regulatory Operations, outlined that there has been an increase in suspicious financial activity in the Australian betting market over the past year.

He explained: There are many legitimate people who seek to gamble and we are not necessarily against the gambling sector, it’s more about managing the risk when it does occur.”

The creation of the new unit means there are now two specialist teams dedicated to gambling AML, something which AUSTRAC states is indicative of the increasing risk environment in the sector.

The move forms part of a wider trend which has seen AUSTRAC pay closer attention to Australian betting firms’ finances over the past year, notably launching a ‘supervisory campaign’ in 2022 to assess how firms can improve their AML protocols and standards.


So far, prominent names such as Entain, bet365 and Sportsbet have found themselves under AUSTRAC’s spotlight, with licence holders told to ‘lift their game’ on AML compliance. 

Nicole Rose, AUSTRAC Chief Executive, commented on the campaign: “AUSTRAC will not hesitate to take action where suspected non-compliance is identified, to protect businesses from being exploited and protect the Australian community from harm.”

Meanwhile, on a wider scale, the agency has also moved to enhance its general oversight of AML activity by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with both the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The MoU with the FCA will cover regulatory engagement, including sharing information and knowledge of emerging trends, risks and business compliance.

Rose remarked: “In our interconnected global environment, criminal and national security threats transcend borders, which is why AUSTRAC is committed to working with international partners to exchange information and pool resources to combat financial crime

“Money laundering enables a range of serious crimes to occur, from drug and human trafficking, to terrorism financing. 

“The signing of these two MoUs cements Australia’s long standing commitment to working with valued partners, like FCA and HMRC, to drive behavioural change and uplift capability across industry to create a hostile financial environment for organised crime.”

With the HMRC, AUSTRAC is seeking operational collaboration on AML and counter-terrorism financing activity, whilst underscoring that both MoU’s will support stronger supervisory practices and tools as well as business monitoring capabilities.

Simon York, HMRC Director of the Fraud Investigation Service, said: “This MOU will help our countries share information and intelligence in our joint fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, building on our already successful working relationship.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Australian government, using this MOU to better understand businesses that work across our two nations and better protecting our countries from serious and organised crime.”

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