AUSTRAC, the government body responsible for preventing Australia’s financial system from being abused by organised crime, has appointed an external auditor to Gold Corporation, the company that operates The Perth Mint.
The move is in response to compliance concerns identified by AUSTRAC in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism rules governing the company’s operations.
AUSTRAC (the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) says the auditor will have 180 days to report on a number of issues including Gold Corporation’s customer due diligence program and its ‘suspicious matter’ reporting obligations.
The appointment indicates that AUSTRAC has reasonable grounds to suspect that Gold Corporation has contravened or is contravening anti-money laundering (AML) or counter-terrorism financing (CTL) rules.
“AML/CTF compliance requirements are in place to protect businesses, the financial system, and the Australian community from criminal threats,” says AUSTRAC’s CEO Nicole Rose.
“AUSTRAC does not hesitate to take action where a business that we regulate is failing to satisfy their responsibility to protect themselves and Australia’s financial system from criminal activity. We will continue to work closely with Gold Corporation to address compliance concerns.”
The investigation by AUSTRAC follows a tumultuous period for The Perth Mint which culminated in the resignation of former CEO Richard Hayes in October last year.
Hayes, who was due to retire in April, vacated the role following a swirl of controversy during his seven-year tenure. The most recent was a blowout in the cost of an IT system upgrade which had ballooned to $100 million from an initial budget of $16 million.
Prior to this, The Perth Mint was rocked by an investigation by The Australian Financial Review in 2020 revealing that it was buying up to $200 million a year in ‘conflict gold’ from a convicted killer in Papua New Guinea.
Gold Corporation runs The Perth Mint, which is owned by the Western Australian Government. The Perth Mint was established in 1899 as a branch of the Royal Mint and is Australia’s largest precious metals enterprise, providing gold, silver and platinum products to the global market worth about $18 billion a year.
Gold Corporation contributes revenue to both the WA and federal governments through its refining, coin minting and investor sales activities.
Business News Australia has sought comment from Gold Corporation in relation to the appointment of an external auditor by AUSTRAC.
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