Australian Cryptocurrency Exchanges Required to Report to Watchdog Agency

· April 11, 2018 · 9:30 pm

Australia moves to regulate cryptocurrency providers by putting them under the direct purview of Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) – the country’s money-laundering watchdog.

The changes, as reported by Reuters, are to become effective immediately. Months after AUSTRAC filed a money-laundering lawsuit against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), regulators move to institute new registration requirements for cryptocurrency exchanges, hoping to substantially reduce the risk of cybercrime, terrorism financing, and, of course, money-laundering.

Rough Couple of Months

It seems that the issues associated with financial crime, including crypto-related scams, have taken their toll on Australia over the past few months. Fake bitcoin websites, as well as Ponzi schemes, cast a pall over the first quarter of 2018, having scammed Australian bitcoin users out of more than $10,692,438.

Just a few days ago, CBA announced that it was blocking all credit card purchases of virtual currencies on the grounds that “virtual currencies do not meet a minimum standard of regulation, reliability, and reputation when compared to currencies that we offer to our customers.” Ironically, the bank itself faces hundreds of money-laundering complaints.

Obligated to Report

Despite recent regulations, the country has an openly positive attitude towards cryptocurrency as a whole. In February of this year, major local banks announced that they would not ban Bitcoin. Furthermore, Australians are now able to purchase Bitcoin and Ethereum from more than 1,200 newsstands nationwide.

In light of the proliferation of crypto-related scams, the Australia’s move to request all cryptocurrency providers to “collect information to establish a customer’s identity, monitor transactions, and report activity that is suspicious or involves cash over A$10,000 ($7,755),” seems like one with a lot of merit behind it.

The recent requirements set forth by the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act (AML/CTF) have vested increased oversight capabilities within the country’s watchdog agency.

Nicole Rose, chief executive of Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), said:

The information that these businesses will collect and report to AUSTRAC will have immediate benefit in the fight against serious crime and terrorism financing.

The merits behind targeting the cryptocurrency providers seem to fall in line with what ACIC reported back in August:

Virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, are increasingly being used by serious and organized crime groups.

However, whether or not these changes would help to prevent crypto-related scams and crimes is something that we’re yet to see. What is more, the reasons for which the instituted legislation is not extended towards lawyers, accountants, real-estate agents and others alike remain in question.

Do you think the recent AML/CTF changes will have an impact on the crypto field in the country? Please let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Pexels, Shutterstock

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