Tranche One Legislation and Rules
The Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Act was passed in December 2006 and was phased in over two years. It represents stage one of the Government's AML reform agenda. It is aimed at the financial sector, the gambling sector and bullion dealers. Although it is not directly aimed at legal practitioners, they are not specifically exempted from its operation. To the extent that legal practitioner provide certain financial services in competition with the financial sector, they are also intended to be subject to obligations under the AML/CTF Act.
The Law Council's primary concern with the current AML/CTF Act is that it may inadvertently capture some general legal services. The Law Council has made strong representations to Government to ensure that the legislation does not operate in this way.
The main area of concern was that the ordinary trust account activities of legal practitioners might be captured because such activities fell within the definition of designated remittance arrangements. The view of the relevant Government agency, AUSTRAC was that such activities were not intended to be captured.
After many representations by the Law Council, in August 2008, AUSTRAC made an AML/CTF Rule which effectively exempts legal practitioners from obligations in relation to designated remittance services provided in the ordinary course of legal practice.
After further representations and advocacy by the Law Council, in November 2009, AUSTRAC made a further AML/CTF Rule which exempts legal practitioners from obligations in relation to custodial, depository or deposit box services provided in the ordinary course of legal practice.