Australia sees 3-fold increase in suspected terror financing

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's financial intelligence agency has counted a three-fold increase in the number of Australian transactions suspected to be funding terrorism, a tally the government attributed Wednesday to greater vigilance rather than more instances of terror financing.

Austrac said in its annual report this week that the 536 suspected terrorism-related transactions reported to security agencies in the fiscal year that ended on June 30 were a 300 percent increase on the previous year. The report did not give a total for 2013-14.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan that Austrac had more resources to detect such transactions while it had also increased cooperation with the businesses it regulates, such as banks and casinos, which were reporting more suspicious transactions.

"There's an increase in suspicious transactions that have been reported to our agencies, which means that we are getting better at detecting those suspicious transactions and then tracking them down," Keenan told reporters.

Keenan declined to say if any arrests had been made as a result of those 536 transactions, which amounted to 53 million Australian dollars ($38 million).

Austrac said it was monitoring more than 100 people in Australia suspected of financing terrorism. Eight financial businesses were deregistered over suspicions that they were funneling money to terrorists.

Australian Federal Police said in their annual report on Wednesday that they had conducted eight operations aimed at disrupting terrorist activities in the last fiscal year, charging 25 people.