New Budget measures strengthen financial intelligence work
The Coalition Government's $17.4 million Budget commitment in 2003-04 to the work of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) was welcomed today by the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison.
"AUSTRAC is the cornerstone of Australia's efforts to detect and combat money laundering, revenue evasion, drug trafficking and terrorist financing,' Senator Ellison said.
"This new level of funding for AUSTRAC signals the Government's clear commitment to countering organised crime and terrorism in all forms, especially tracking down those who finance and profit from the insidious activities associated with criminal or terrorist enterprises.
"Australia is at the forefront of the fight against money laundering. We have implemented a strong legislative framework and ensured AUSTRAC has the resources to achieve world's best practice, particularly in the crucial area of data mining. And Australians can be proud of the fact that we are now mentoring other countries keen to join the high-tech battle against organised crime and terrorism.'
AUSTRAC has been allocated $8.2 million in additional funding in 2003-04, which represents an increase of 51 per cent on its existing funding. Senator Ellison said the increased funding would enable AUSTRAC to continue developing regulatory strategies and systems to meet emerging threats.
"It will also allow AUSTRAC to provide enhanced support to the investigative efforts of other Australian law enforcement agencies,' Senator Ellison said. 'AUSTRAC supports programs such as the National Illicit Drug Strategy and assisted the Australian Federal Police with inquiries into the financing of the Bali bombings.'
Senator Ellison said the $17.4 million funding commitment to AUSTRAC would complement the new Australian Crime Commission's investigations into money laundering and tax evasion resulting from serious and organised criminal activity. The ACC intelligence operations and investigations, to be called Operation Midas, have been allocated $30 million over four years in the 2003-04 Budget.
Senator Ellison said greater funding would allow further development of AUSTRAC's recent work in providing technical assistance to our regional neighbours to develop anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing systems. It would also facilitate AUSTRAC's ongoing efforts to establish cooperative links with other financial intelligence units worldwide.
"AUSTRAC's detection and analysis of financial networks and money movements is crucial to the integrity of Australia's financial systems,' Senator Ellison said. 'It protects these systems from misuse by organised criminals and terrorists, helping maintain the security and safety of all Australians.'
Mairi Barton. Ph 02 6277 7260 or 0439 300 335