Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre


The AUSTRAC is a financial intelligence agency and regulator set up by the Australian government to administer money laundering, organised crime, tax evasion, and welfare fraud. It was established in 1989 under the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988 to implement the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF). AUSTRAC further extended its monitoring under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Act 2006 to deal with terrorist financing and other emerging money laundering techniques more effectively.

What is the role of AUSTRAC?

The role of AUSTRAC is to protect the Australian financial system through its two interdependent functions. These are financial intelligence agency with regulatory responsibilities.

AUSTRAC cooperates with its international counterparts for exchange of information. They also establish a supervisory framework for regulated entities, and works to educate entities about their AML/CTF obligations and secure voluntary compliance. AUSTRAC works together with the Criminal Code Act 1995 to maintain a list of outlawed terrorist organisations.

As a regulator, AUSTRAC oversees compliance with the AML/CTF Act 2006 and the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1988 by businesses across diverse sectors. It lays down the reporting requirements and provides industry specific guidance.

As a financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC researches and analyses money laundering and terrorist financing threats to Australia’s financial system. Results are shared with government partner agencies and international counterparts to assist in the investigation of serious criminal activity. The Centre also determines whether to take an enforcement action where there is serious or persistent non-compliance with the law.


Who must comply with the AUSTRAC?

AUSTRAC provides that regulated/reporting entities must comply with the prescribed reporting obligations. According to AUSTRAC a “reporting entity” is one who provides a designated service, or is a designated business group, and includes:

  •  Financial services: account/deposit-taking services, Australian financial services, currency exchange services, digital currency exchange services,life insurance services, loan services, payroll services, remittance services, securities and derivatives market (s) /investment services
  • Trading in Bullion
  • Gambling: betting, gaming
  • A subsidiary or joint venture of a company registered in Australia
  • A law practice
  •  An accounting practice
  •  An entity that provides a registrable designated remittance service

All such reporting entities and professional must have an AML/CTF program for their business.

New AML/CTF regulations issued by AUSTRAC

As an ongoing process to regulate the financial system and businesses, AUSTRAC has periodically made amendments to its AML/CTF Act 2006.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing Amendment Act 2017 (AML/CTF Amendment Act, 2017) was passed by both Houses of Parliament on 7 December 2017, implemented on April 1, 2018. A key change is assigning of greater regulatory powers and functions for AUSTRAC’s CEO, including search and seizure powers. Further provisions now include objects of art, digital currencies, remittance activities, and revision of earlier definitions such as “betting instruments”. The amendments also provide regulatory relief to deemed “low-risk” industries – cash-in-transit sector, insurance intermediaries, and general insurance providers.