AUSTRAC Reports on Fintel Alliance Efforts to Combat Criminal Threats

AUSTRAC has developed an algorithm that enables Fintel Alliance to detect suspicious financial patterns while protecting the privacy of underlying reporting entities and personal data.

AUSTRAC is working on a new alerting project and the development of an information sharing platform, as part of efforts to combat serious and organised crime.

The projects were outlined in a performance report outlining the impact Fintel Alliance has had on serious and organised crime in Australia in the year up to June 2020.

The Fintel Alliance, now expanded to 29 public and private sector partners including ASIC, has resulted in arrests of offenders for serious crimes involving money laundering, child exploitation, scams, and tax fraud, among others.

The report highlights work to protect individuals from criminal networks trying to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic such as through fraudulent claims on superannuation and government payments. Of the 24 crime types covered by Fintel Alliance, child sexual exploitation, environmental crime and welfare fraud were the top three.

Roger Wilkins, Chair of the Fintel Alliance Strategic Advisory Board, said this year has seen new and innovative technology solutions developed to further bolster industry and law enforcement capabilities.

“The use of technology in law enforcement and crime prevention is developing rapidly,” he said. “Accordingly, Fintel Alliance continues to innovate through the development of new technology to respond to criminal threats to Australia’s financial system and the community.”

Among these innovations, Fintel Alliance is working on a new alerting project that will help to detect instances where criminals are attempt to conceal their activities by distributing them across multiple bank accounts.

The project commenced in July 2019 and is scheduled to be complete on 30 June 2022. So far AUSTRAC has developed an algorithm that will enable Fintel Alliance to detect suspicious financial patterns while protecting the privacy of the underlying reporting entity and personal data.

> ALSO READ: Using Privacy Preserving Analysis to Tackle Financial Crime (7 Jul 2020)

Over the next two years, the alerting platform will be implemented at AUSTRAC and participant reporting entities. Once delivered in 2022, Fintel Alliance will be able to trace suspicious funds as they move through the financial system, and identify indirect financial links between different financial institutions.

A separate information sharing project is also currently underway, involving the development of a new platform that enables Fintel Alliance partners to engage, co-author and share information in a single location – to support improved and more timely operational efforts.

According to CEO Nicole Rose, the initiative will increase AUSTRAC’s ability to share sensitive information with private sector partners without being physically located together.

“Fintel Alliance will continue to innovate and provide invaluable intelligence and collaborative contributions to the fight against serious and organised crime,” she said in the report’s foreword, adding that the public-private partnership will see increased operational resources over the next three years with the support of government funding.

AUSTRAC is developing eight money laundering and terrorism financing risk assessments focusing on the banking, remittance and gambling services sectors – all due to be published in the coming years, the report says.

  • In banking, four risk assessments will be published, examining Australia’s major banks, Australia’s other domestic banks, foreign bank branches in Australia, and foreign subsidiaries in Australia.
  • In remittances, two risk assessments will be published, examining remittance network providers and their affiliates, and independent remittance service providers.
  • For the gambling sector, a risk assessment examining junket tour operations in Australia, and another examining Australian casinos, will be published.

The full report is available here.

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