April 30, 2016 / 1:29 AM / 4 years ago

Australia proposes reforms to boost anti-money laundering drive

Australian dollar notes and coins can be seen in a cash register at a store in Sydney, Australia, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia on Friday proposed changes to simplify its anti money-laundering and terrorism financing laws, notably extending the regulations to include intermediaries and professions currently not required to report suspicious transactions.

The 84 recommendations in a statutory review published on Friday include extending the current anti-money laundering rules to encompass accountants, lawyers, real estate agents and dealers in high-value objects such as jewelry.

The global anti-money laundering body Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last year found significant gaps in Australia’s AML framework, particularly in the regulation of professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants, who are not covered by existing rules.

Friday’s recommendations would help bolster Australia’s compliance and enforcement and allow it to simplify its anti-money laundering/counter terrorism financing (AML/CTF)regulations to minimize red tape and duplication.

The reforms will be progressed in two stages to prevent “regulatory fatigue,” the Justice Minister Michael Keenan said in the report.

Australian anti-money laundering regulator AUSTRAC welcomed the recommendations.

“Better reporting practices from industry means we produce better intelligence, which then helps national security, law enforcement agencies and our partners in Government to investigate and crack down on people doing the wrong thing,” AUSTRAC CEO Paul Jevtovic said in a statement.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Eric Meijer

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