The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is hoping to develop a course specialising in Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) laws -- the controversial legislation that requires businesses to gather data on their customers.
AUSTRAC, the federal government agency responsible for enforcing the AML/CTF Act (2006) has called on the education sector to develop a tertiary qualification -- to be awarded as a certificate or diploma -- potentially aimed at training graduates, practitioners and AUSTRAC employees alike in a comprehensive study of the legislation, and associated issues surrounding it.
The AML/CTF Act was enacted by Parliament in 2006 as a hybrid anti-fraud and counter-terrorism measure, and obligates a range of businesses -- from banks to jewellers -- to collect extensive information on their customers and report any suspicious transactions to the agency.
AUSTRAC now hopes to design a curriculum incorporating studies of the financial sector and banking, the legislation itself, auditing and compliance procedures, criminology, transnational crime, money laundering, as well as terrorism and counter-terrorism, and the agency has issued a notice for expressions of interest to identify parties capable of developing a course.
"The course is required to provide both foundation learning in AML/CTF fundamentals as well as to stimulate discussion and investigation and develop thoughts on leading edge and emerging issues and trends," said a statement accompanying the notice for expressions of interest.
The notice itself outlines a six to 12 month timeframe for delivery of the course and its curriculum.
It is not known whether the course would be taught through universities, TAFE or a separate tertiary institution, or its planned duration, although AUSTRAC has expressed interest in the provision of "off campus" teaching options where possible, such as e-learning and podcasts.
The AML/CTF legislation was introduced amidst some controversy over individual rights to privacy and the co-opting of business into government surveillance.
"Banks and other businesses are now required to be actively suspicious of their own customers rather than just providing a service," Roger Clarke, chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, said recently.
"I wouldn't have ever thought anything like this would ever happen in Australia," he said.
The Act was drafted to be delivered in two separate tranches, the first of which became effective in July last year. It requires banks, credit unions and other major lenders to comply with "Know Your Customer" (KYC) identity verification measures stipulated under the act, reaching far beyond the existing one hundred point ID check system.
The second tranche, requiring small businesses such as accountants, lawyers, jewellers and real estate agents to follow similar guidelines, is expected to come into effect in the first half of this year.