Money Cryptocurrencies get AUSTRAC anti-money laundering and terrorism funding scrutiny

08:55  11 april  2018
08:55  11 april  2018 Source:

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Money laundering is widely recognised as a key enabler for criminal activity, and the recent rise of pseudonymous cryptocurrencies has created new ways for this occur. Register with AUSTRAC ; Adopt and maintain an Anti - Money Laundering /Counter- Terrorism Financing program to identify

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre ( AUSTRAC ) — AUSTRAC on December 13 2017 amended its Anti - Money Laundering and Counter- Terrorism Financing Act 2006 to fight money laundering and terrorism funding utilizing cryptos.

Cryptocurrency© ShutterStock Cryptocurrency Cryptocurrency exchanges operating in Australia will now come under the scrutiny of Australia's financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, and be monitored for money-laundering and terrorism funding activities.

The new law gives AUSTRAC the powers to police digital currency exchanges (DCEs) trading in a variety of crypto currencies including bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple.

AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose said the new laws had been generally welcomed by the digital currency exchange sector.

"The new laws will strengthen [AUSTRAC's] intelligence capabilities to help DCEs implement systems and controls that can minimise the risk of criminals using them for money laundering, terrorism financing and cybercrime," Ms Rose said.

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The Australian Government has agreed that cost recovery should be applied to AUSTRAC ’s anti - money laundering and counter- terrorism financing regulatory functions. These legislative instruments are subject to Parliamentary scrutiny and can be disallowed.

AUSTRAC ’s vision is to have an Australian community that is hostile to money laundering and the financing of terrorism . It could also involve the layering of funds for international funds transfers in an effort to avoid scrutiny of the transfers. u-turn transactions .

"It's recognised 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."

Suspicious transactions must be reported

DCEs with a business operation located in Australia must now register with AUSTRAC and meet Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) compliance and reporting obligations before May 14.

There are believed to be fewer than 100 DCEs operating in Australia. So far around 20 have registered with AUSTRAC.

The AML/CTF act requires businesses on AUSTRAC's register to collect information to establish a customer's identity, monitor transactional activity and report transactions or activity that is suspicious or involves large amounts of cash over $10,000.

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Criminals may be drawn to real estate as a channel to launder illicit funds due to the Real estate agents are not subject to the provisions of the Anti - Money Laundering and Counter- Terrorism This provides AUSTRAC with a degree of visibility over possible money laundering through real estate.

In an announcement today, the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre ( AUSTRAC ) has told domestic DCE (digital currency exchange) businesses of their mandatory requirement to meet anti - money laundering and counter- terrorism financing (AML/CTF)

"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," Ms Rose 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."

Cryptocurrencies and crime

The move to bring DCEs under AUSTRAC oversight follows a report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) into the increased activity by criminal gangs in cryptocurrencies.

"Virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, are increasingly being used by serious and organised crime groups," ACIC noted in its report on Australian organised crime, released in August.

"They are a form of currency that can be sold anonymously online, without reliance on a central bank or financial institution to facilitate transactions."

There is abundant evidence that cryptocurrencies are being used on darknet marketplaces like Silk Road 3.0 and Valhalla Marketplace to facilitate the sale and trafficking of illicit drugs, firearms, precursor chemicals and child exploitation materials.

Ransomware attacks launched by cyber-criminals commonly demand payments to be made in cryptocurrencies to avoid being tracked.

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