Australia financial crime watchdog orders audit of Afterpay

Australia's financial crime watchdog said it will audit buy-now-pay-later provider Afterpay Touch Group Ltd to ensure it was complying with anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, sending the company's shares down.

Adds shares, Afterpay response

SYDNEY, June 13 (Reuters) - Australia's financial crime watchdog said it will audit buy-now-pay-later provider Afterpay Touch Group Ltd APT.AX to ensure it was complying with anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, sending the company's shares down.

"The audit will help identify if Afterpay has developed and implemented the systems and controls it needs to ensure it complies with its obligations," AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer Nicole Rose said in a statement.

AUSTRAC would use the audit to determine any compliance issues and whether regulatory action was needed, AUSTRAC said.

The agency did not say what prompted the audit, but added in its statement the buy-now-pay-later sector had experienced rapid growth and new financial players needed to be educated about their obligations.

Shares of Afterpay were down 7% in early trading, while the broader Australian market .AXJO was flat.

Afterpay said it had "proactively engaged with AUSTRAC" for several months about its AML/CTF compliance and that it had measures in place to comply with the law, including strict spending limits.

"Buy Now Pay Later is a new and maturing sector not only for our customers, but also for regulators, and we will continue to work closely with AUSTRAC to develop a leading compliance regime specific to our business in a transparent and cooperative manner," it said in a statement.

Afterpay has just completed a A$317.2 million ($219.8 million) share placement to institutional investors.

($1 = 1.4430 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Wayne Cole and Byron Kaye; Editing by Stephen Coates)

((byron.kaye@thomsonreuters.com; +612 9321 8164; Reuters Messaging: byron.kaye.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; @byronkaye))

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