There’s a lot on Labor’s agenda to fix after the coalition government, but a place needs to be found to end the use of Australian property for money laundering and investment. corrupt money.
The previous government backed away from a twice-commitment to uphold agreed international standards to establish a beneficial ownership registry.
Last year, when Senator Jane Hume was minister responsible, the government simply refused to answer questions about the registry.
The Morrison government has played by announcing Russian sanctions, but we just don’t know what real estate in Australia belongs to the Russian oligarchs.
The previous government didn’t seem to care much, or what other corrupt or criminal funds were being invested here, or how real estate deals were being used to launder money.
And not just real estate. As the Australian Financial Review Angus Grigg reported: “The Morrison government has backed out of plans to unmask the appointed administrators, a move by experts that will make Australia a safe haven for laundered money and the proceeds of corruption.”
The absence of a register has been brought back into focus as a prop for James Packer’s success in bringing Crown casino money laundering back to the headlines with his claim that he paid Peter Costello to be a secret lobbyist for Crown — a claim Mr. Costello has denied.
A review of Packer connections by Michael West Media included an explanation of how casinos handle workarounds for customers to circumvent Chinese UnionPay card restrictions – and Australia’s anti-money laundering laws.
“The whole Barangaroo project seems designed to allow money to be transferred anonymously,” reported Michael Sainsbury.
He quoted financial crime expert Nathan Lynch on one of the techniques for circumventing anti-money laundering rules – getting big players to put their money in the accommodation industry, which is not not regulated because it is “property”.
“So you rent a penthouse for a week for a million dollars. And then, surprise, you get a million dollars worth of chips when you show up. So it all went unreported,” Mr. Lynch.
In the Barangaroo Tower itself – most floors are residential – there was no control over who bought the units.
Without beneficial ownership records, ownership can remain hidden through proxies.
“So the people who came in and bought these units, imagine who they might be. Nobody knows. They still don’t know,” Mr. Lynch said.
“And there is an elevator in this building that takes you from your private apartment to the games floor.
“So they don’t have any visibility into who owns these apartments, but it was literally built like a [money] laundromat where you buy your apartment, bring your cash, hop in the elevator to the laundromat, job done, 4 or 5%. Thanks.”
Barangaroo Crown Casino finally opened its doors this month – and opened rather quietly – under new ownership and management. But the absence of a register of beneficial owners remains.
Morrison government dies revealing corrupt foreign money invested here was key local angle Four corners used last year for his article on the Pandora Papers.
As The new daily reported at the time, the government’s reluctance to reduce and prevent corruption was limited to rejecting a genuine federal integrity commission.
Banks have faced massive fines for failing to ‘know your customer’ in potential money laundering cases, but lobbying from the real estate industry and the accounting and legal professions has paid off in allowing them to continue to facilitate the much greater washing and investment of the product of delinquency and corruption.
Stephen Jones replaced Jane Hume as Deputy Treasurer and Minister of Financial Services with the change of government.
The new daily asked the minister’s office on Tuesday where the government was on the creation of a register of beneficial owners. We hadn’t received a response by last night’s posting deadline.
The government has a lot to do.