Aussie lawyers and accountants more concerned about money laundering

Andrew Jackson, Country Manager at First AML

90% of lawyers and accountants are more concerned about money laundering since discussions around AML/CTF Tranche 2 have increased, according to research by full-service anti-money laundering (AML) software solution First AML. The study, which aims to uncover the attitudes of Aussie lawyers and accountants toward compliance and AML procedures, found that 89% of respondents said AML has moved up the firm’s agenda in the past year. 

Why is there increased concern about money laundering?

The biggest reasons for this increased concern is mainly that Australian companies are increasing their focus on customer transparency and ethical customer onboarding (79%), and preparing for expected Tranche 2 implementation (70%). Other reasons include reducing siloed documentation (64%), increased risk of fines (61%) and external risks (47%). 

With a whopping 95% of respondents admitting a money laundering incident would impact their company’s ability to attract new clients and retain existing ones, 89% said they are proactively putting more rigid AML policies in place, especially given the Tranche 2 and Russian sanctions situations. Compliance steps being put in place include tech (85%), outsourcing services such as a policy consultant or external training (83%), and hiring (57%).

The study found that 67% of lawyers and accountants have identified one or more instances of suspected money laundering in the past three years, with 49% identifying more than one.

Research insights from the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) second annual AML and Anti-Financial Crime Conference reveal that money laundering is the most frequently observed financial crime at 18%, followed by fraud and scams (15%), corruption (14%) and fraud against government programs (11%). 

What is the money laundering landscape like in Australia?

57% said they believe the threat of money laundering will continue to get worse over the next three years, with the biggest causes of concern being the growth of unethical business practices (39%), AML/CTF Tranche 2 (19%) and the growth in online transactions (17%). 

Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists data reveals 50% of people see lack of resources as the most significant risk in the last 12 months. Others include increased regulatory scrutiny and enforcement action (21%), crypto and virtual assets (17%). 

Andrew Jackson, First AML Country Manager said, “Australia has been recognised as an easy money laundering target. Accountants and lawyers need easy and accurate ways to onboard customers and complete financial transactions with assurance that they are compliant.”

“However, this is an industry-wide issue that impacts not just businesses but also the economy and everyday Australians. That’s where First AML’s technology comes in, especially as countries globally call for tighter compliance in business,” Jackson further commented.

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