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AUSTRAC clarifies suspicious matter reporting responsibilities
AUSTRAC has addressed concerns regarding how fraudulent activity is to be reported in light of the new temporary early release of super and how responsibility and oversight will work in the system.
AUSTRAC addressed several questions around reporting on suspicious matters and ineligibility in a roundtable meeting with AIST, ISA and ASFA this week.
AUSTRAC’s views were sought on where the responsibility for suspicious matters lies where:
the funds accept the bank details provided by the ATO, no alerts are raised as part of the funds' usual screening processes, and it later becomes apparent that the monies were used to fund illegal activity.
AUSTRAC clarified that if the ATO does not make a fund aware that an account is compromised, and no other flags are raised as part of funds' usual processes, then AUSTRAC would not expect a suspicious matter report.
If a fund subsequently receives a notification from either the ATO or another body (e.g. law enforcement) after the payment has been made then funds would need to consider whether they should lodge a suspicious matter report.
AUSTRAC will be releasing guidance shortly on the new rule, what it means and how to apply it. This will include a number of relevant case studies. AIST will distribute the draft for comment.
For further information, please contact AIST Head of Advocacy, Mel Birks at email@example.com
ATO updates early super application numbers
There has been a total of 617,800 registrations of interest for early release of superannuation made to the ATO as of Wednesday 8 April.
The ATO have stated the figure is only a broad indicator of volumes of those who may eventually apply for early release of their super.
The ATO is not offering any further breakdown or analysis of the information and is not accepting individual requests for information and data regarding early access registrations.
The next update will be provided by the ATO on Friday 17 April.
ACCC issues warning on early release scammers
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has joined other bodies in warning that scammers are now trying to exploit Australians financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
The ACCC said early this week that since the Government’s early release super measures were announced, there had been 87 reports to its ScamWatch service, but no reported losses.
"Scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from organisations that can help you get early access to your super," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said. "For most people, outside of their home, superannuation is their greatest asset and you can't be too careful about protecting it."
In most cases the scammers are seeking to obtain personal information, including information that will help them fraudulently access the victim’s superannuation funds.
“While older people are more commonly affected by superannuation scams, the new early access scheme means a range of age groups are now experiencing these scams,” Ms Rickard said.
“We also have reports of scammers offering to check if a person’s super account is eligible for various benefits or claiming the new scheme will lock people out of their accounts.”
In a media release last week sparked by several anecdotal reports to AIST, we similarly warned that scammers were already trying to take advantage of the Government's early release measures.
JobKeeper Payment passes through Parliament
The Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper Payment has now passed through Parliament.
The $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment is the equivalent of about 70 per cent of the median wage and, according to the Government, represents about 100 per cent of the median wage in some of the most heavily affected sectors, such as retail, hospitality and tourism.
It will be available to full-time and part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more. Importantly, it will apply to the many Australians working in the not-for-profit sector.
Combined with the Government’s previous actions, this totals $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP in economic support to Australian businesses, households and individuals affected by the Coronavirus.
Latest from ATO on employer cash flow reductions
Two thirds (66%) of Australian businesses have reported that their turnover or cash flow had reduced as a result of COVID-19, according to the last data from the ATO.
The data, released this week as part of an ATO survey on Business Impacts of COVID-19, indicates that nearly half (47%) of businesses made changes to their workforce arrangements.
For some businesses this included temporarily reducing or increasing staff working hours, changing the location where staff worked (including working from home) or staff being placed on leave.
Two in five businesses (38%) have changed how they deliver their products or services, including shifting to online services. Over a third of businesses have renegotiated their lease and rental arrangements and a quarter have deferred loan repayments.