AUSTRAC’s How to comply with KYC requirements during COVID-19 pandemic – Our Thoughts

Some thoughts on AUSTRAC’s approach:

  1. “AUSTRAC will work constructively with you as you manage your money laundering and terrorism financing risks during this disruptive period. This includes considering your circumstances when applying the AML/CTF laws.” So keep good records and / or consult with AUSTRAC or get legal advice before you do anything radical.
  2. The alternative processes to verify customer identity are applicable before the provision of the designated services. So no change to the current law; no special circumstances to allow KYC to be completed after the commencement of the provision of the designated services.
  3. These alternative processes are already in the Rules and in some, but not most, AML/CTF Programs Part B.
  4. Rule 4.15.1 - alternative proof of identity. Useful but note the devil in the detail including: inability to establish identity using normal Rule 4 processes; risk assessment needed; risks around self-attestation; must apply “appropriate” levels of ongoing customer due diligence to mitigate ML/TF risks.
  5. Rules 4.9.3(3) & 4.9.5(3) - basically the use of non certified copies. Useful but need to consider all the elements of the respective Rules and the risks.
  6. Disclosure certificates - very much misunderstood. Many, if not most, Programs do not allow for the use of disclosure certificates. So Programs will need to be amended post a risk assessment. Also, Rule 30 outlines when and how disclosure certificates can be used. It is not a simple process.
  7. From our experience most AML/CTF Programs do not cover these KYC methods so will require amendment. AUSTRAC state “In these circumstances, we expect that you keep a record of any changes in policies and procedures made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” We agree with that statement.
  8. Note that in both examples the reporting entity has “recently updated their AML/CTF program and processes to allow a more flexible approach when managing situations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Foresightful.
  9. The over-arching KYC requirement for each customer type is “having appropriate risk-based systems and controls that are designed to enable the reporting entity to be reasonably satisfied” … that the individual / company / trust etc. is the individual / company / trust etc. claims he / she / it claims to be.

This is not legal advice. If you need legal or consulting advice on your specific circumstances please get in touch.

Paddy Oliver leads the team at AML Experts. Paddy has extensive experience as a lawyer and compliance management consultant. Importantly for you, he is an experienced Independent Reviewer and Auditor. That means AML Experts is your one-stop-shop for AML Act and AUSTRAC compliance. Paddy can be contacted here.

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