Laundering causing recruiting woes

THE FEDERAL Government’s reform of Australia’s anti-money laundering (AML) is expected to place huge pressure on the already candidate-short risk and compliance recruiting market

THE FEDERAL Government’s reform of Australia’s anti-money laundering (AML) is expected to place huge pressure on the already candidate-short risk and compliance recruiting market.

The surprise addition of requirements for the appointment of a single anti-money laundering compliance officer to the government’s draft AML bill and Austrac’s new powers as a regulator will ramp up demand for specialists, observers said.

Austrac – which will now enjoy powers similar to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) – is expected to beef up recruitment but may be competing for the same scarce resources as the firms it will now regulate. Austrac received a $10 million funding boost in the recent federal budget.

“While the Government and Austrac won’t tell banks exactly what to do in terms of managing their AML and CTF [counter-terrorism financing] risks and responsibilities, there will be significant implications for those that get it wrong,” said Gary Gill, a partner at KPMG Forensic.

“This issue is driven home by an increase in Austrac’s powers to include enforceable undertakings in line with other regulators and the requirement for organisations to appoint a single AML/CTF compliance officer.

In theory, the board retains oversight responsibility for implementing and managing an institution’s entire AML regime. However, in reality you can guess whose door Austrac will knock on first.” There may not be many takers lining up to volunteer, he added.

“The big question here is: who will step up for this job and how much will they need to be paid to take it? Some organisations might expect existing risk or compliance officers to take up these duties as part of their current responsibilities, but it’s questionable just how practical this will be given the breadth of added responsibility,” said Gill.

On the plus side, the appointed Officer will not be subject to the same level of liability as in the UK, where Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLROs) have potential personal liability. The UKhas seen a huge turnover of MLROs.

Ros Grady, a partner at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, said there is still some confusion over how the AML compliance officer position and management sign-off will operate within complex corporate group structures.

“For example, there is a requirement to have your board and senior management approve an AML program,” she said.

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