COVID-19 | Impacts on AML/CTF & AUSTRACs Expectations

Like a number of other Australian regulators (such as ASIC, APRA, ACCC and the OAIC, details available via our Roadmap), the immediate reaction from AUSTRAC to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to reassure the business community that they will be constructive with regards to managing AML/CTF risks during this disruptive period.

In addition to their promise to consider the specific circumstances of reporting entities, AUSTRAC has announced:

  • a postponement of the Annual Compliance Report deadline from 31 March 2020 until 30 June 2020; and
  • an exemption for superannuation funds in relation to conducting additional customer verification for payments made under the Early Release of Superannuation Initiative.

However, a constructive approach does not mean a relaxed approach and AUSTRAC has reiterated its commitment to continuing to police serious financial crimes despite any disruptions.

AUSTRAC has issued guidance on how to comply with KYC requirements during the pandemic, including relying on alternative processes to verify customer identity. AUSTRAC has also encouraged reporting entities to monitor for new and emerging threats and to continue to submit high quality suspicious matter reports (SMRs), particularly in the areas of scams targeting government assistance programs, movements of cash to stockpile goods, out of character purchases of precious metals and exploitation of workers, children and the community.

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Important to note:

This communication is intended to provide commentary and general information only. It is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all aspects of the matter referred to. It should not be relied upon as legal advice as to specific issues or transactions.

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