Australia is targeting money laundering and terrorism in a sophisticated new collaboration with banks and fintech

Photo: Islamic State Social Media.

SYDNEY — A new government and private sector alliance was launched this morning to combat “serious financial crime”, including activities involving terrorism and money laundering.

The new Fintel Alliance has brought together 19 partners including the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, all four major banks, Australian Taxation Office, Western Union and fintech giant PayPal with intelligence agencies like AUSTRAC, ASIO and Australian Crime Commission.

The organisation will target “terror financiers and gangs who deal in proceeds of crime, as well as white-collar criminals who think their crimes are victimless”, according to federal justice minister Michael Keenan.

The Fintel Alliance’s “operational hub” sees government intelligence experts sitting alongside specialist staff from the financial industry. The Australian body has reportedly already linked up with the British Intelligence Unit and will seek to create an international network.

The Alliance is also running an “innovation hub” that will design and test financial products through collaboration between public and private sectors – targeting new tech like blockchain.

“We aim to make Australia the most difficult jurisdiction in the world for organised crime and terrorism financiers to operate in,” said AUSTRAC chief executive Paul Jevtovic.

To help catch criminals, the government is also developing a new team of university-educated financial sleuths.

Keenan revealed a pilot for the new Financial Intelligence Analyst Course was already under way with 16 participants. It’s claimed to be the world’s first university-accredited course specialising in that field.

“This is just the first step in creating a new breed of highly specialised serious financial crime fighters to protect our national security,” said Keenan. “Every FIAC participant will be trained to relentlessly hunt serious financial crime, terrorism financing and the profits of organised crime.”

The minister said that such a course was necessary as organised crime and terrorism financing became more sophisticated.

“By harnessing the expertise and knowledge of industry and government, FIAC will produce the specialists we need to strengthen Australia’s national intelligence community,” Keenan said.

Issues such as money laundering, organised crime, terrorist financing, the misuse of cryptocurrencies and darknet marketplaces are on the curriculum.

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