Monday, 02 May 2022 15:57

AUSTRAC accepts enforceable undertaking from National Australia Bank Featured

By Staff Writer

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre AUSTRAC has accepted an enforceable undertaking from National Australia Bank (NAB) to uplift its compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws.

The action follows an AUSTRAC enforcement investigation which identified concerns about NAB’s AML/CTF program, systems and controls.

AUSTRAC says it identified non-compliance in targeted compliance assessments, as well as through self-disclosures from NAB.

AUSTRAC notified NAB of the formal enforcement investigation into five NAB reporting entities in June 2021, following ongoing regulatory engagement. The entities are National Australia Bank Limited, JBWere Limited, Wealthhub Securities Limited, Medfin Australia Pty Ltd, and AFSH Nominees Pty Ltd.

AUSTRAC said in a statement on Monday that NAB has undertaken to implement a comprehensive remedial action plan, which will see improvements to its systems, controls and record-keeping, including:

  • the NAB designated business group AML/CTF Program
  • applicable customer identification procedures
  • customer risk assessment and enhanced customer due diligence
  • transaction monitoring
  • governance and assurance.

AUSTRAC said it will monitor NAB’s progress to ensure that actions are taken within the timeframes, and maintain regular, ongoing discussions with NAB - and an independent auditor will report to AUSTRAC annually on progress, with the final report to be provided to AUSTRAC by March 2025.

AUSTRAC said it formed the view at the start of the investigation that a civil penalty proceeding was not appropriate at that time – and has not identified any information during the investigation to change that view.

AUSTRAC chief executive officer Nicole Rose said that the enforceable undertaking aims to ensure that NAB continues with its remediation program to uplift its compliance and combat the risks of serious and organised crime.

“National Australia Bank has demonstrated a commitment to uplifting its AML/CTF controls, and has undertaken significant work identifying and implementing improvements to its programs.

“NAB has worked collaboratively with AUSTRAC throughout the investigation, and this enforceable undertaking will help to ensure NAB meets its compliance and reporting obligations,” Rose said.

AUSTRAC regulates and collaborates with the financial services sector to build resilience, improve risk management and ensure businesses have appropriate systems in place to help them identify, track and disrupt criminal exploitation of the financial sector.

“All AUSTRAC regulated businesses have a responsibility to have measures in place to protect the community from serious and organised crime. When these obligations are not met, AUSTRAC will not hesitate to draw on our range of regulatory tools and enforcement powers to maintain public confidence in Australia's financial system,” Rose said.

In 2021, AUSTRAC released the Major banks in Australia risk assessment which found the overall money laundering and terrorism financing risk for the industry is 'high'. The report provides information and guidance to support major banks to assess their level of risk, strengthen their controls and report suspicious activity to AUSTRAC.

The enforceable udertaking and accompanying remedial action plan is available on the AUSTRAC website.

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