The Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre

12 March 2020

The Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre is an important addition to our integrity system.

The Fraud Prevention Centre was established on 1 July 2019 as a two-year pilot to help counter fraud against the Commonwealth.  It will focus on policy design, interagency cooperation (including with States and Territories) and the strategic use of both criminal and administrative responses to disrupt and prevent fraud.

fraud
A recent estimate of what fraud costs Australians is over $1 billion a year.

Given the challenges in detecting and prosecuting fraud (and bribery and corruption), the importance of preventing it in the first place cannot be overstated.  The Fraud Prevention Centre can play an important role in that respect if it is properly resourced and utilised.  A very practical example of its usefulness in recent times is to design a method of fraud prevention in the allocation of Government bushfire relief funding to individuals who may have lost their usual forms of identification in the fires.  With large amounts of money allocated for bushfire relief, the public expects to be able to trust and have confidence that the necessary systems of checks and balances are in place.

Australia needs a comprehensive and coordinated integrity system.

If the establishment of the Fraud Prevention Centre is a signal that the Government is interested in taking a pro-integrity approach, then it is to be welcomed.  However, we need to be able to prevent, detect and investigate all forms of fraud, bribery, money laundering and corruption. That’s why we desperately need a federal anti-corruption commission with teeth (i.e. investigative powers, scope to hold public hearings and capacity to consider issues brought by the public, including against members of parliament).  It remains to be seen whether the Government will fulfil this need.

Russell Wilson (1)
Russell Wilson
Board member

Author

Russell is a lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in both the private and public sectors.  He has worked on significant commercial, regulatory and national security matters through his career.  He has particular subject matter expertise in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing, international sanctions, digital currencies and related issues.  He is passionate about fighting corruption and making the world a better place for his children.  He lives in Canberra where he has resided for over 40 years.