Family sues CBA over money-laundering scam

A family sent millions to Australia – only to have all of their money confiscated by police

Family sues CBA over money-laundering scam

A makeup artist studying in Australia and her family are suing Commonwealth Bank after losing millions of dollars in an international money-laundering scam.

Delania Marundrury and her Indonesian family have lost millions they sent to Australia to buy land, build a house, and pay for her education and living expenses, according to a report by The Australian. The family maintains that it was CBA’s fault that they lost the money.

Solicitor Gabriel Kuek of Access Law has launched an action in the Federal Court on behalf of the Marundrury family, The Australian reported. Kuek said the bank violated its anti-money laundering obligations by not immediately reporting suspicious activity in the family’s bank account.

The family maintains that they were unaware anything was wrong, and continued to send money to Australia – all of which has been seized by the Australian Federal Police as the suspected proceeds of criminal activity. The Mandrury family has never been charged with – or even accused of – a crime, according to The Australian. However, they have lost all the money they have sent to Australia.

Lawyers for the family argue that they have been the victims of “cuckoo smurfing,” a scam used by criminals to launder money.

The family said their money was intended to be sent from Indonesia to Australia through a money changer, who charged less for the transaction than CBA. However, unbeknownst to them, the money was never sent. Instead, the same amount of dirty money was transferred into their accounts in multiple deposits of less than $10,000, The Australian reported.

The Marundrurys’ lawyers argued that the family have been victimised three times in Australia – first by the criminals, then by the AFP for zeroing in on them as “soft targets,” and finally by CBA for using its resources to fight them, The Australian reported.

The banking giant asked the Federal Court to throw the lawsuit out – an application that was denied by Judge Mark Moshinsky.

CBA argued that it cannot defend itself because AUSTRAC regulations bar it from revealing any information about anti-money laundering activity to anyone except authorised law enforcement, The Australian reported.

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Moshinsky has given the parties four months to contact AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose to ask her to allow the bank to discuss its obligations.

CBA has already been in hot water for breaching anti-money laundering laws. In 2018, the bank was slapped with a $700 million fine for violating its obligations. AUSTRAC had accused CBA of systemic failures to report suspicious deposits, transfers and account transactions, according to The Australian.

Earlier this year, Rose warned businesses that if they identify potential cuckoo smurfing, they must report it to AUSTRAC “so together we can disrupt criminal syndicates targeting the bank accounts of Australians.”

The Marundrurys claim that the bank did not live up to that obligation, and that it had a duty to its customers to protect illegal transactions from occurring through its accounts, The Australian reported.