As one of the world’s most influential economic and political powers, Australia plays a significant role in the fight against international money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
To curb these activities and penalize both the regimes and individuals that engage or are complicit in them, the Australian government observes a range of economic sanctions, which are implemented and enforced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
What Is the DFAT Sanctions List?
The DFAT Sanctions List contains the consolidated details of all individuals and entities that are subject to targeted sanctions by the Australian government. The list is available online and updated regularly to incorporate new targets and de-list others. In Australia, sanctions are organized into two categories:
- United Nations sanctions: As a member of the United Nations, Australia is bound to implement the sanctions issued by the UN Security Council.
- Autonomous sanctions: The Australian government maintains its own autonomous sanctions regime derived from its foreign policy and implemented under the authority of the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011.
The sanctions on the DFAT list include asset freezing measures, and restrictions on market access, business relationships, imports and exports, and travel to or through Australia. Breaches are punishable by a fine of AU$450,000 or three times the value of the transactions (if that is greater), and prison sentences of up to 10 years for individuals found guilty of wrongdoing.
Who Has to Comply with DFAT Sanctions?
The sanctions included in the DFAT list are applicable to all financial institutions operating in Australia and to all Australian nationals at home or abroad. Practically, this means that Australian firms must integrate DFAT sanctions screening into their internal risk-based AML/CFT compliance programs to accurately verify their customers’ sanctions status.
In some instances, firms may apply to DFAT for a license that permits business activity with individuals or entities included in the DFAT sanctions list.
Why Is It Important to Have a Sanctions Screening Tool?
Running a DFAT sanctions search manually can be a challenging and time-consuming process – with the added risk of inaccuracy as a result of human error. By contrast, an autonomous sanctions screening tool minimizes those risks, adding speed and administrative efficiency to the AML/CFT process and delivering the compliance performance required by DFAT.