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AUSTRAC partners with industry to protect children from sexual exploitation

Human RightsAUSTRAC partners with industry to protect children from sexual exploitation

AUSTRAC has released a financial crime guide today to help businesses identify and report financial transactions that may be linked to the purchase of child sexual exploitation material.

Offenders and facilitators use technology, including social media, live streaming, and gaming platforms to facilitate child abuse, with financial gain a primary motivator. Travel is no longer necessary to access victims or child sexual exploitation material. Online financial payments enable offenders around the world to purchase this material, which enables the abuse to occur.

This has prompted AUSTRAC and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to work with and educate financial institutions to recognise risk indicators associated with the purchase of child sexual exploitation material.

In partnership with the AFP, government partners, industry, and a non-profit organisation, AUSTRAC has updated the indicators report released in 2019, to help financial institutions identify behaviours and transactions which may indicate payments for child sexual exploitation material, and to submit a suspicious matter report to AUSTRAC. Financial service providers have visibility of customer activity and are well positioned to flag behaviours and transactions of concern, which is critical to AUSTRAC and law enforcement to identify and stop this activity.

AUSTRAC Deputy CEO Intelligence, Dr John Moss, said that child sexual exploitation is a crime with devastating consequences which requires concerted collaboration between government and industry to stop.

“Offenders actively conceal their offending from friends, family, and law enforcement while continuing to live and operate within the community,” he said.

“Financial transactions are central to identifying child sexual exploitation material because payments enable the abuse to take place. It is crucial for law enforcement, government agencies, and financial institutions to work in partnership to stop payments for child sexual exploitation material.”

“As Australia’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC analyses the information shared by businesses through suspicious matter reporting, to generate financial intelligence that contributes to law enforcement investigations. This is critical to protect children, the community, and Australia’s financial system from criminal abuse.”

Instances of child sexual exploitation that involve a financial footprint include live distance child abuse; travelling to offend; sextortion of victims; domestic self-production; and purchase of child-like sex dolls.

The financial indicators and behaviours in the guide can be used by businesses to develop risk profiles and transaction monitoring programs to identify and stop financial transactions associated with the purchase of child sexual exploitation material.

Child sexual exploitation material is generally defined as, but not limited to, material of a child engaged in real or simulated sexual activities or the representation of a child for primarily sexual or offensive purposes, or as the subject of torture, cruelty or abuse.

Download the Combating the sexual exploitation of children for financial gain financial crime guide (PDF, 3.47MB)

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