Fintel alliance, the AUSTRAC‘s public -private partnership plays a significant role in deterring, monitoring and combating serious financial crimes. AUSTARC has recently published a report on the operational performance of fintel alliance (2019-2020) that elaborates the contributions of fintel alliance in identification of new financial threats in the COVID pandemic besides its immense cooperation with the law enforcement agencies in preventing money laundering, wild life trafficking activities thereby safeguarding the Australian financial system.   

Fintel alliance collaborated with the Australian police to support a money laundering investigation which involved huge amount of cash deposits into bank accounts. Fintel alliance organised a new project so as to enable the law enforcement authorities to have a clear picture of the modus operandi of the criminals, in particular the illicit fund movement and the proceeds of crime. The project focused on understanding third party cash deposits with emphasis on ATM (Automatic Teller Machines) deposits. In order to monitor the suspicious behaviour, fintel alliance facilitated exchange of intelligence among the police and the industry partners.

As a result of the investigations, a money laundering cartel that attempted to transfer $5.4 million was identified. Cuckoo smurfing was the technique implemented by the launders by utilising 167 various bank accounts to conduct 1879 cash deposit transactions with 87 deposits being deposited on a single day in ATMs for a total value of $193,500.The project governed by fintel alliance was highly productive as 5 individuals were arrested and drugs, weapons & cash were seized as part of the probe. 

The partnership between the fintel alliance and other law enforcement agencies in this particular case is remarkable as it is a real time example of disrupting money laundering through third party cash deposits (ATM). Additionally, parameters to be included as parts of the transaction monitoring process have also been recognised. In general, robust adaptability to the upcoming technologies and communication systems has not only enriched the generation of financial intelligence but has also upgraded the AML/CFT controls and framework.             


Author: Rajashree, MBA, CAMI

(PonSun AML Academy)