On 28 November 2006, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs released its report on the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Bill (Bill).
The report makes 14 recommendations, with the final recommendation being that the Bill be passed, on the basis that the other 13 recommendations be addressed. Other recommendations made include:
—a recommendation that the Bill be amended to delay the first stage of implementation until three months after the date the Bill receives royal assent. Currently, the first stage of implementation will begin on the day after the Bill receives royal assent.
Scope of designated services
—as concerns remain about the scope of the designated services relating to stored value cards (items 21 to 24 of the designated financial services table) and the exclusion of some community bank branches from the definition of 'owner managed branches' in clause 12, a recommendation was made that further work continue between the Attorney-General’s department and industry and other stake holders to resolve these concerns. A further recommendation was made that clause 6(7), which allows for regulations to amend an item in the designated financial services table, be deleted from the Bill.
Threshold value limits
—a recommendation that the government consider amending the Bill to include more value limits so as to exclude low risk, low value services from the definition of 'designated services'.
—two recommendations in relation to the interface between the Bill and privacy obligations; namely, that the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner conduct periodic audits of AUSTRAC’s compliance with privacy obligations in its administration of the Bill and that AUSTRAC’s access to information under Division 4 of Part 11 of the Bill be restricted to access for the purposes of responding to money laundering, terrorist financing or other serious crime.
—two recommendations in relation to the impact of the Bill’s obligations on Australia-wide anti-discrimination laws; first, that the protection from liability in clause 235 of the Bill be amended to carve out protection from breach of anti-discrimination laws, and second, that AUSTRAC work with stakeholders to develop a non-discriminatory model for assessing the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing, with a view to assisting reporting entities in performing their obligations under the Bill.
—two recommendations dealing with the Rules made under the Bill; first, that AUSTRAC thoroughly consult with industry and other stakeholders when amending or making further Rules after the commencement of the legislation, and second, during the review of the legislation, to take place before the seven-year anniversary of the Bill’s commencement, that the safe harbour rules for customer identification be re-examined.
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Because of the high costs, royal commissions should only be convened to address issues of substantial public importance.
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