National

Draft laws to stamp out money laundering

By AAP Newswire

People travelling in and out of Australia may soon have to declare all forms of non-cash money over $10,000.

At present, travellers only have to declare cash over that threshold.

But under draft legislation introduced to federal parliament on Thursday, the rules will extend to cheques and traveller's cheques.

As he introduced the bill to the lower house, junior minister Darren Chester said it would help stop money laundering and terrorism financing.

Organised crime costs the Australian economy up to $47 billion each year.

"Criminal and terrorist threats are not static," Mr Chester said.

"Methods to launder dirty money and finance terrorism, by their very nature, evolve to exploit opportunities.

"Criminals and terrorists constantly work to find new ways to circumvent controls and avoid detection. Accordingly, our legal and policy settings must also continue to evolve."

The draft laws also broaden the scope of who can access information from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

It permits AUSTRAC to share information with a broad range of Commonwealth, state and territory agencies.

"In the global fight against organised crime and terrorism it is crucial that our national security, law enforcement and revenue protection agencies can efficiently and effectively access and use valuable financial intelligence," Mr Chester said.

In its annual report, AUSTRAC laid bare the top five crime types it encountered in the past financial year.

More than 1100 matters related to national security, which far outstripped any other type of crime.

Money laundering accounted for 234 incidents, 140 were related to fraud, 109 were linked to tax evasion or avoidance and 66 stemmed from fraud or scams.

The draft legislation also boosts penalties for not declaring more than $10,000 at the border to up to two years in prison.

Australia's banks will also have to conduct due diligence on financial institutions they work with overseas, to ensure they're not shell banks.