AUSTRAC secures intelligence ties with major UK regulators

AUSTRAC UK agreement MoU

Australia’s financial crime investigations agency AUSTRAC has confirmed intelligence-sharing and cooperation agreements with two major UK regulators: the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

AUSTRAC’s agreement with the FCA, the UK’s chief financial regulator overseeing consumer rights and financial industry conduct, will see the pair exchanging regulatory information, as well as tracking emerging trends, risks, and shared compliance of multinational businesses operating in both the UK and Australia.

The FCA, a self-regulatory agency funded by members of financial services industry, is responsible for overseeing the conduct of retail and wholesale financial services firms across the UK, with an overarching remit of consumer protection, financial market stability, and promotion of competition between FSIs.

The agency works alongside the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Policy Committee, an adjunct of the Bank of England.

AUSTRAC’s agreement with the UK’s tax and customs authority, the HMRC, in addition to the sharing of regulatory information, could see the prospect of joint anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing supervision.

Confirming the signing of the agreements, AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose said the “MoUs [cement] Australia’s long-standing commitment to working with valued partners, like FCA and HRMC, to drive behavioural change and uplift capability across industry to create a hostile financial environment for organised crime”.

She further acknowledged the challenge of operating in an “interconnected global environment” with criminal and national security threats increasingly transcending borders.

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

Simon York, director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, 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.”

AUSTRAC previously confirmed MoUs with the Great Britain Gambling Commission in January 2020, and complement the financial intelligence-focused MOU with the UK National Crime Agency, the agency said.