Real estate at “very high” risk of money laundering - triSearch

Real estate at “very high” risk of money laundering

Real estate is one of just a few “very high” risk industries vulnerable to money laundering, according to a new report.

Criminals attracted to Australia because of its stable economy and buoyant housing market are suspected of laundering billions into the economy through property.

While the AFP seized $1.1 billion in criminal assets between July 2019 and June 2024 – with more than $720 million involving real estate – government experts suspect the true figures dwarf those numbers.

At the launch of AUSTRAC’s latest National Risk Assessment, the financial crimes watchdog’s new CEO Brendan Thomas suggested it could be many times higher.

Speaking at a joint event with Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, he said: “We know that the value of the domestic Australian drug market is worth at least $12.4 billion per year.

“This money then needs to be laundered through the Australian economy, every single year.”

Another reason Australia is seen as vulnerable is because it is one of only five countries who have failed to roll out reforms forcing lawyers, accountants and property professionals to adopt strict Know Your Customer disclosure methods.

The others without the so-called Trance 2 reforms are China, the USA, Haiti and Madagascar.

Under the reforms being considered by government, up to 100,000 individuals and businesses will need to meet significantly increased reporting obligations with associated extra costs.

The changes – described in our upcoming Special Report as the biggest challenge to lawyers in a decade – do look certain to be adopted despite industry pushback.

“Opposing these reforms means aiding and abetting the criminal abuse of our financial system by drug traffickers, people smugglers, terrorists and those who exploit and abuse children,” Mr Dreyfus said.

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