New Financial Transaction Reports Bill Introduced to WA Parliament

Friday 23 February 2018 @ 9.40 a.m. | Crime | Legal Research

On Tuesday 20 February 2018, WA Attorney General (the AG), the Hon John Quigley introduced the Financial Transaction Reports Amendment Bill 2018 (the Bill) to the WA Legislative Assembly, with the Bill proposed to make substantive amendments to the Financial Transaction Reports Act 1995 (WA) (the Act).

Background

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (the EM), the proposed amendments contained in the Bill will enable WA police to access information and documents reported under the Commonwealth’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (the AMLCTF Act). The amendments will update the Act which was the result of an agreement by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General to model state legislation requiring cash dealers to provide information to state police regarding offences against state laws.

The Current Legislation

Under current [Federal] legislation, all Australian banks are required to report any suspect transaction as well as cash transactions of $10,000 or more to the Commonwealth regulator - the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

Purpose of the Amendments

A Media Release from the WA Government indicates the new amendments:

“… will give the WA Police Force greater powers to compel Australian banks to provide police with additional information relating to those transactions …”

and:

“… will better equip police to conduct financial-based investigations in an effort to detect organised crime, money laundering and other criminal activities … The changes bring WA in line with other Australian States, which gave their State police forces these powers some years ago.”

Comment from Government

The AG also revealed in a recent Media Release the new legislation is hoped to enhance the capability of WA Police to target money laundering:

"Money laundering investigations currently rely on third party collection and dissemination of financial information, and other onerous and limited procedures to obtain documents and intelligence. These amendments strengthen the ability of WA Police to conduct more proactive, financial-based investigations to detect the illegal activities of criminals …"

WA Minister for Police; Road Safety the Hon Michelle Roberts recently commented:

“… this is another powerful tool for police in the fight against methamphetamine and other illicit drugs … these powers will help police both detect drug syndicates and other criminals, and give them a better opportunity to freeze profits before they are moved offshore. Money is at the heart of the insidious meth trade so disrupting the cash flow of traffickers, hits them where it hurts."

Current Status of the Bill

The Bill is currently in the WA Legislative Assembly where it is awaiting further discussion and comment.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

New powers to help police follow the money trails of criminals – Media Statement

Financial Transaction Reports Amendment Bill 2018 (WA) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.

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