Australia Takes Aim at Cryptocurrencies With New Money Laundering Bill

Lloyd Doyle
August 19, 2017

The memo said the regulation is needed because some businesses are avoiding digital currencies due to riskiness.

The bill's measures include the regulation of digital currency exchange providers.

Keenan also stressed that the new laws would be balanced - bolstering the threat against organised crime and money laundering but not hindering the development of legitimate financial organisations or Australia's fintech ambitions.

Bitcoin has been on fire, with the digital currency having recently climbed above $4,000.

On Thursday, Keenan said that the private sector was an essential partner in ensuring Australian businesses are not exploited by criminals.

"Australia is very fortunate among its worldwide counterparts, in that we are one of the few countries which now collects all global funds transfers, into or out of Australia", John Schmidt, CEO of Austrac, told Senate Estimates at the time.

It will also increase police and customs officers' search and seizure powers at the border, and provide regulatory relief to industry through the deregulation of low-risk industry sectors.

"This reform comes at a time where the digital currency market is reaching maturity, so they are necessary to legitimise digital currency activities for broader consumer use".

There's no draft of the upgraded Act, or indication when it will reach Australia's Parliament, but the minister's language suggests AUSTRAC's current powers to investigate money laundering, require reports to be filed for certain transactions or transactions over a certain threshold, and to prosecute misdeeds will be extended to digital currency exchanges. "Austrac has a strong track record in ensuring our financial institutions comply with the law".

However, allegations against CBA that it failed to provide more than 53,000 transaction alerts to Austrac on time has put a question mark over those efforts. This error became apparent in 2015 and within a month of discovering it, we notified Austrac, delivered the missing TTRs, and fixed the coding issue. "We recognise that there are other serious allegations in the claim unrelated to the TTRs".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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