Money launderers pose national threat
Nov 28, 2011
Unregulated money laundering has implications for global terrorism and national security, Australian Crime Commission chief executive John Lawler says. Mr. Lawler told a policing conference that Australians were attractive prey to investment scammers operating mainly from southeast Asia. "Certainly the remittance industry is a major source of money laundering out of this country and we know organised criminals are using them," Mr. Lawler told reporters on Monday. "I simply draw the link that there is a body of evidence to link serious and organised criminality with terrorism and national security matters."
Top law enforcement experts and members of the financial industry gathered in Sydney to attend the 2011 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Conference.
In his address, Mr. Lawler said policing organised crime and money laundering activities required partnerships outside the traditional law enforcement and regulation environments. However, enlisting sectors such as the finance industry, internet service providers and community associations raised questions of privacy. "It's critical in my view that we get that balance right between protecting people's privacy and personal business without providing an impenetrable cover for organised criminals," he said. Russell Smith, principal criminologist with the Australian Institute of Criminology, said law enforcement agencies had to keep confidential research that could educate criminals on new methodologies or tip them off to where countries direct their policing activities.
"Over the last four years we've spent a considerable proportion of our budget looking at money laundering and financing-of-terrorism research," Dr Smith told the conference. Australian Police Force (AFP) deputy commissioner Andrew Colvin said the money laundering process has become very complex. Remittance dealers who work outside the industry are attractive avenues for organised criminals to get their money out of Australia. "As a result, they have little or no knowledge of the offence that's being committed," Mr. Colvin said in a speech to the conference. "In most part, they couldn't care less.
"Money laundering syndicates, terrorist financiers and organised crime more broadly are rapidly adapting their practices and finding new ways to defeat law enforcement." James Freis Jr heads the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the US and told the conference that an estimated $2 trillion, or 3.6 per cent of global gross domestic product in 2009, originated from drug trafficking and other organised crime. Mr Freis said the recent operation to capture and convict sought-after arms dealer Viktor Bout shows how organised criminals use complex methods to hide their money laundering and other activities. Law enforcement in the US, Thailand, Romania and the Netherland Antilles worked in concert for Bout's capture. "That's what we're up against," Mr Freis told the conference.