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Money laundering and terrorism financing risks to Australian non-profit organisations

Research and public policy series no.114

Samantha Bricknell, Rob McCusker, Hannah Chadwick, David Rees
ISBN 978 1 921532 86 3 ISSN 1836-2079
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, February 2012


The exploitation of the non-profit sector for money laundering and, in particular, the financing of terrorism, is understood to have been a long-established practice. However, the methods and sources used by terrorist organisations to finance their activities became a key policy focal point after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and subsequent (predominantly government) examinations of terrorism funding substantiated the position that non-profit organisations were at an elevated risk of criminal exploitation. The vulnerability of non-profit organisations was related to their social purpose, the cash-intensive nature of their activities and the generally minimal form of regulatory oversight applied to their operations. Adding to this risk was the provision of services that relied on financial contributions and the good will of its supporters, the often regular transmission of funds between jurisdictions and less rigorous forms of administrative and financial management.

This report examines the risks to the Australian non-profit sector of money laundering and terrorism financing and describes the regulatory changes that could minimise risk. The report uses information derived from government, non-government and peer-reviewed literature, case law and regulator reports, and observations made by representatives from the non-profit sector, law enforcement and key regulatory agencies, and academia that were consulted for the study.

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