Australia signs information exchange deal with Cambodia

Australia's financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, has signed an agreement with Cambodia financial intelligence unit (CAFIU) for the exchange of financial intelligence.

The two organizations finalized the deal at the Second Regional Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) Summit 2016 last week.

"This memorandum of understanding (MOU) will expand Australia's capacity to counter the terror threat and combat transnational crime in the Southeast Asia region. It sets out the terms for exchanging information, with protections around confidentiality and the ways the information can be used," Michael Keenan said.

He added that AUSTRAC's growing international footprint is crucial in the global fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and serious and organized crime.

The agreement likewise builds on the other outcomes of the Counter Financing Terrorism Summit held in Bali, including the release of a combined regional risk assessment of terrorism financing risk in Southeast Asia.

AUSTRAC, on behalf of Australia, and Cambodia are both members of the Egmont Group, the international network of financial intelligence units (FIUs) established to promote cooperation between its member countries.

Earlier last week, Australia, through AUSTRAC, also announced a new cyber team that would target terrorism financing and financial crime. The new team will use financial and cyber intelligence to investigate online payment platforms and financial cybercrime to crack down on money-laundering and criminal networks.

“We know that the use of fraudulent identities continues to be a key enabler of serious and organized crime and terrorism,” Keenan said in a media release.

The agency will also work with iDcare, Australia and New Zealand's national identity support service, to target job recruitment scams that organized criminal syndicates use to recruit innocent people as money mules.

iDcare has identified 197 clients who have experienced a job scam, and 41 cases where innocent people were duped into laundering funds.

The AUSTRAC cyber initiative forms part of the Australian government's Cyber Security Strategy, announced by the Prime Minister in April.