Australia is investigating $53 million in suspected funding to terrorists

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Intelligence authorities have detected a sharp rise in suspected cases of terrorism being financed from Australia.

The annual report of AUSTRAC, Australia’s finance intelligence agency, shows 536 cases were referred to the Australian Federal Police and ASIO in the 2014-15 year. And 98% of the cases were accepted for further investigation.

This is a 300% increase on the year before. The bulk of cases, 367 of them, were referred by industry. AUSTRAC detected the rest.

The average amount in each case is about $100,000, with the 536 cases relating to a total of $53 million, including a cash component of $11 million.

AUSTRAC is currently monitoring more than 100 people of interest and keeping partner agencies informed about suspicious financial activities.

While this is a record number of cases, it doesn’t reflect the true cost of terror financing in Australia, says federal justice minister Michael Keenan.

“Instead, the information recorded in these reports offer clues that feed into the operational activity of law enforcement and national security agencies,” he says.

“Terrorism financing underpins and enables the work of extremists — putting us all at risk.”

According to federal government assessments, 190 people in Australia are providing support to individuals and groups in the Syria-Iraq conflicts through financing and recruitment or who plan to travel.

AUSTRAC was given an extra $20 million last financial year, part of the government’s $630 million countering terrorism package, to strengthen the detection and disruption of terrorism financing.

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