The financial crime regulator said it had identified compliance concerns within the firm.
AUSTRAC has ordered an external audit of three entities within Bell Financial Group, looking into their compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
The financial crime regulator said it will authorise an external auditor to assess Bell Potter Securities, Bell Potter Capital and Third Party Platform, having identified compliance concerns.
Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act), AUSTRAC has the power to force entities to appoint an external auditor when there are “reasonable grounds to suspect that the reporting entity has contravened, is contravening, or proposes to contravene the AML/CTF act or the AML/CTF rules”.
The external auditor is due to examine whether the three entities have an AML/CTF program and an ongoing customer due diligence program, including their compliance with suspicious matter reporting obligations.
“Australian financial services businesses have a responsibility to ensure they devote the necessary resources and processes to comply with their AML/CTF obligations under the law,” said AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose.
“We will continue to work closely with Bell Financial Group to address any compliance concerns, and take action where any businesses that we regulate are failing to appropriately protect themselves and Australia’s financial system from criminal activity.”
AUSTRAC said it would determine the extent of the auditor’s examination, which will be conducted at the expense of Bell Financial Group.
The auditor will be required to report back to AUSTRAC within 180 days of being appointed, with the outcomes set to determine the need for further regulatory action.
Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.
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