The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has imposed new rules on the country’s booming cryptocurrency exchanges to prevent any illegal dealings.
The new laws empower the Australian agency, responsible for financial intelligence and anti-money laundering, along with counter-terrorism financing regulations, to police digital currency exchanges offering trading of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and a fleet of altcoins.
According to the AUSTRAC’s CEO Nicole Rose, the new laws will strengthen the agency’s compliance and intelligence capabilities to help the exchanges. These will also help in implementing systems and controls that can minimize the risk of criminals using them for money laundering, terrorism financing, and cybercrime.
Moreover, she is claiming that the decentralized exchanges are welcoming the newly introduced laws as it will increase transparency of their businesses.
Rose said: “It’s recognized that this reform will help protect their business operations from money laundering and terrorism financing, while regulation will also help strengthen public and consumer confidence in the sector.”
Moreover, the cryptocurrency exchanges need to register themselves with the AUSTRAC before May 14.
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According to reports, a little less than 100 cryptocurrency exchanges are now operating within Australia, however, only 20 of them are registered with the AUSTRAC. Recently, the AUSTRAC provided a license to an exchange called Blockbid before the beta launch of its operations.
The prevailing AML/CTF act in Australia gives the AUSTRAC the authority to collect information on customer’s identity. The agency can even monitor suspicious looking digital transactions or cash transactions involving more than $10,000 on the registered businesses.
“AUSTRAC now has increased opportunities to facilitate the sharing of financial intelligence and information relating to the use of digital currencies, such as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, with its industry and government partners. The information that these businesses will collect and report to AUSTRAC will have immediate benefit in the fight against serious crime and terrorism financing,” Ms. Rose added.
Crypto crimes in Australia
With the boom of cryptocurrencies, the number of related crimes in Australia also skyrocketed. According to a report released by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch service earlier this year, the agency has received 1289 Bitcoin-related scam complaints in 2017 alone.
The data on the report showed that the victims were duped for more than $1.2 million so far.
“Virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, are increasingly being used by serious and organized crime groups. They are a form of currency that can be sold anonymously online, without reliance on a central bank or financial institution to facilitate transactions,” the ACCC’s report noted.