Fintel Alliance targeting financial crime in Australia

Photo of someone checking financial records
By Chris Sheedy, CA Today

12 May 2017

A powerful new alliance based in Australia will make life very difficult for terrorists and financial crime.

The world of crime has undergone major changes over the last decade and in some cases those responsible for protecting law and order have had a difficult time keeping up.

However, most major crimes such as terrorism, money laundering, organised crime etc., have one thing in common and therefore one shared weak spot – they all need to fund their crimes and/or hide the income produced by their wrongdoings.

In early March a formidable new alliance was announced in Sydney by the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, to take the fight to criminals and expose their tactics.

The bringing together of government agencies and industry is, to me, one of the strongest weapons that we have against these criminal and terrorist groups.

The Fintel Alliance, established by AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), brings together major corporates, Government agencies, law enforcement bodies and individual experts to create a first-of-its-kind coalition intended to make life very difficult for criminal groups, globally.

“The bringing together of government agencies and industry is, to me, one of the strongest weapons that we have against these criminal and terrorist groups,” said Paul Jevtovic, CEO of AUSTRAC.

“The vision that has now become the realisation of the Fintel Alliance is one of the most powerful weapons that we possess to respond to the threats and the risks posed by organised crime and terrorism.”

Who exactly is in this alliance? 

For starters, there are Australia’s four big banks as well as other financial entities such as Macquarie Bank, Paypal and Western Union. All are dedicating people to the Alliance, many of whom will be co-located and others will be digitally connected.

“The diversity of thinking created by our connected communities of specialists from various backgrounds and industries will be a major strength,” Paul said. “If the people in this group can’t deal with the types of threats we’re looking at, then nobody can.”

That’s just the beginning. Other bodies deeply involved in the Fintel Alliance include the NSW Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, The Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and more, including such experts as renowned counter terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton.

What we've been able to do is create a culture and an environment amongst the Fintel Alliance of people who are disruptors, innovators and thinkers, not nay-sayers and not critics.

Internationally, the UK’s National Crime Agency has confirmed that it will come on board. Other major law enforcement and financial entities from around the globe are also showing interest.

Paul envisions a day when thousands of businesses, departments and experts are sharing information, knowledge and talent in order to create an environment in which criminals and terrorists simply cannot hide or distribute their funds. He is creating an environment, he said, in which the financial lifeblood of criminals is snuffed out for good.

“There are many challenges when you endeavour to do something like this, but what we've been able to do is create a culture and an environment amongst the Fintel Alliance of people who are disruptors, innovators and thinkers, not nay-sayers and not critics,” Paul said.

“I've been absolutely overjoyed with the response by industry and government agencies and their genuine commitment to collaboration. I've not seen anything like it in my 35-year career. I think it's a fantastic opportunity and it says a lot about the maturity of the relationships.”

We cannot continue to have the relationships between government, partners and industry that we've had.

Of course, the role accountants play in the stamping out of crime-related finance will be vital, said Paul, describing the accountancy profession as a “very important future partner”.

“The trigger for all of this is that, quite frankly, we have to get smarter about the ways we fight terrorists and organised crime,” he said. “We cannot continue to do what we've been doing. We cannot continue to have the relationships between government, partners and industry that we've had.

“I'm not saying that those relationships were dysfunctional or that, from time to time, some good things weren't done. But we need to have a consistently high level of genuine collaboration where everyone involved is treated as a trusted partner.”


About the author

Chris Sheedy is one of Australia’s busiest and most successful freelance writers. He has been published regularly in the Sydney Morning Herald, Virgin Australia Voyeur, The Australian Magazine, GQ, In The Black, Cadillac, Management Today, Men’s Fitness and countless other big-brand publications. He is frequently commissioned to carry out copywriting and corporate writing projects for organisations, including banks, universities, television networks, restaurant chains and major charities, through his business The Hard Word.

Topics

  • Business
  • Accountancy
  • Australia

Previous Page