Estonia, Financial Services, Investments

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Sunday, 24.06.2018, 08:04

Estonia is Australia's New Money Haven

Lucy Davies, especially for BC, London, 09.01.2017.Print version
Estonia is one of the three, fastest-growing money havens for the Australian dollar today. In 2010, wire transfers to the country were by the thousands. However now Australian dollars in Estonia are in the millions.

Austrac, an anti money-laundering agency headquartered in Australia, witnessed the spike in its annual figures concentrating on international fund transfers. The figures show that the funds rose from $77,500 in 2010 to $8.9 million in 2016 - a surprising increase of about 11,000 per cent.

Estonia has a population of 1.3 million yet it is a one of the most technologically-advanced countries in the world. However, despite the apparent increase in Australian dollars, the country's exports have been on a steady decline. This led Austrac to lead an investigative into the country’s dealings.

According to a 2011 study, about 8,550 citizens in Australia were recorded to have an Estonian ancestry.

Todd Harland, a former intelligence manager for Austrac, asserts that the increase of funds moving into Australia from Estonia is worth investigating.

“Why there’s a massive, massive jump like that, there’s definitely a question there that needs to be looked at,” said Harland. “The purpose of financial intelligence is to provide triggers. If anything, that (climb in figures) is a trigger for a question.”

Several financial experts agree it's possible that money launderers in Australia are transferring their money to Estonia in the hopes that it won't be investigated. Unfortunately for money launderers, Austrac has an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of Estonia. An MOU is a non-binding agreement between two or more groups outlining the terms of an understanding, including each party's responsibilities. Part of both party's MOU in this case is allowing an investigation into suspicious financial activities.

In Austrac's annual report, it was noted that the agency received about 80,000 "suspicious activity reports" from private informants as well as financial bodies. The numbers documented in the report increased by 7 per cent during the period of 2014 - 2015.

Austrac has been expanding its operations abroad, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, the Middle East, and Africa's northern regions.

On a global scale, it was noted that the total amount of funds getting wired overseas has seen a steady increase of about 5 per cent every year.

Estonia is part of the Eurozone. There is technically no political or fiscal policy governing it but the monetary policy is presided by the European Central Bank.

The pairing of the Euro (EUR) and Australian dollar (AUD) allows FOREX market participants, different trading and investment policies. Fluid monetary policy, global economic cycles, as well as variations in commodity pricing create positive trading circumstances for investors of these currencies.

The EUR and AUD are considered major currencies in the world, and are amongst the top eight most used currencies globally. According to the international Bank of Settlements, the EUR ranks second and accounts for about 30 per cent of daily foreign exchange turnovers. The AUD, on the other hand, ranks 5th and accounts for about 5 per cent of turnovers.

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