A wake up call for many in the industry who provide assistance with the purchase of real estate. Often its a case of not wanting to know, so many questions don't get asked. If Australia is a 'destination' for this sort of activity, then it will continue to impact the local industry by driving up prices in an already competitive market and generate additional duty revenue for the States if turnover of properties is artificially high. It will be interesting to see how far the new FIRB register to be policed by the ATO will go to dampen this sort of activity.
AUSTRAC has released two new reports to help Australian businesses identify money laundering methodologies used through real estate agents and lawyers. The briefs provide information about money laundering methods, business vulnerabilities and indicators that a person is laundering the proceeds of crime. Laundering of illicit funds through real estate is an established money laundering method in Australia. Criminals are drawn to real estate investment in Australia because it is possible to purchase in cash, it offers reliable financial returns and it is possible to disguise ownership. Methods of laundering money include mixing illicit funds with loan funds, manipulating the value of properties, use of third parties to present as the official owner Money laundering methods include using lawyers and other professional services to conduct transactions of their behalf, establishing trusts and other structures to hide identity.