Australia sets up cyber unit to trace terrorism payments

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Australia sets up cyber unit to trace terrorism payments

AUSTRAC team will stamp out money laundering.

The Australian government has set up a cyber-intelligence unit to identify terrorism financing, money laundering and financial fraud online because of "unprecedented" threats to national security.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the new unit, set up under money-tracking agency AUSTRAC, would investigate online payment platforms and financial cybercrime to crack down on money laundering and criminal networks.

"We know that the use of fraudulent identities continues to be a key enabler of serious and organised crime and terrorism," Keenan said in a statement.

The new AUSTRAC unit will work with the Australian and New Zealand government-funded identity support service iDcare to target job recruitment scams that crime syndicates used to recruit innocent people to traffic money between jurisdictions.

The new unit would also work with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network to identify patterns and trends that could indicate large-scale financial scams or their methodology, Keenan said.

A decision by Australia's major banks to stop offering overseas remittance services had driven the money transfer business underground, making it harder for the authorities to track.

In February, unknown hackers tried to steal nearly US$1 billion from the Bangladesh central bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and succeeded in transferring US$81 million to four accounts at RCBC in Manila.

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