Australian bank alleged to be a money laundering operation for criminal syndicates around world
Daily Mail, Australia:
FOREIGN criminal syndicates including major drug traffickers were able to launder millions of dollars through Australia after the Commonwealth Bank allegedly failed to comply with strict money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws and monitor almost 780,000 accounts.Their automation efforts appear to have facilitated the money laundering efforts. The bank also looks like its compliance program was not up to the task of monitoring these transactions. The cases mentioned appear to be mostly criminal cases, but the devices could also have been used in terrorist operations possibly.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) filed a motion in the Federal Court to prosecute the bank alleging 53,700 contraventions of the AML/CTF laws since 2012.
According to the lodged statement, part of the contravening of the laws stemmed from CommBank’s rollout of Intelligent Deposit Machines (IDMs), similar to ATMs but that accept cash and cheque deposits.
The machines have been so popular that by June last year $1 billion a month was being deposited this way.
But according to AUSTRAC, the machines were being targeted by money laundering syndicates and criminal gangs wanting to move proceeds of their drug manufacturing and trafficking sales offshore and domestically. It is understood these gangs include known criminal figures linked to Outlaw Motorcycle groups.
In one case, between November 2014 and August 2015 cash deposits totalling $27.2 million were made to one account and almost immediately transferred offshore.
“The deposits were the proceeds of a drug manufacture and importation syndicate,” the filed motion states. “Three individuals have been charged with dealing with proceeds of crime, with one of these individuals already having been convicted.”
In another case, CommBank had allegedly identified repeated suspected structured cash deposits to 16 of its accounts, 15 of them carrying fake names, moving cash to China.
“Notwithstanding this suspicion, between April and 1 July 1 2015, CommBank permitted approximately $9.1 million to be transferred from these accounts to Hong Kong.”
The Australian Federal Police later established the bank accounts were opened by foreign nationals on holiday visas for the sole purpose of making bulk cash deposits here to launder tens of millions of dollars back overseas.