Enactment of new Commonwealth money laundering offences

Posted on February 9, 2021

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Economic Disruption) Bill 2020 was passed by Parliament on 3 February 2021. These reforms include new money laundering offences designed to address the behaviours of modern money laundering networks, including entities that launder the proceeds of foreign bribery.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery has found that a substantial amount of criminal proceeds are generated from foreign bribery, and that the proceeds of bribery and corruption are often laundered so that they can be enjoyed without fear of detection or confiscation.

The new offences ensure that money laundering syndicates and other persons cannot avoid criminal liability by remaining wilfully blind to the fact that funds were derived from bribery, by hiding evidence of bribery in foreign haven jurisdictions or by dealing with proceeds of bribery at an arm’s‑length.

Under the new offences, it will not be necessary for law enforcement to obtain evidence of bribery from overseas jurisdictions in order to establish money laundering. Instead, liability will be established if, given the circumstances in which funds were dealt with in Australia, there is an irresistible inference that the funds were derived from crime generally.

Further information about the new money laundering offences can be found here.

The proper investigation of suspected bribery and corruption can help businesses meet legal obligations and reduce exposure to potential ongoing or future liability. The Bribery Prevention Network provides practical guidance to businesses about how to investigate suspected bribery and corruption. See here for more information.