Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Australia suspends two cryptocurrency exchanges

Two Australian Bitcoin exchanges shut down following arrest of key executive AUSTRAC suspends two crypto exchanges after arrest
Priscilla Morrison | 11 March, 2019, 13:28

The initial phase of the investigation led to two men being charged for drug trafficking offences in October 2017. However, as far as the matter of suspended exchanges and the arrested man is concerned - it is still unclear how will it affect to the clients or customers of these cryptocurrency exchanges.

The investigation into the syndicate, which has been importing drugs via global mail into Melbourne, is continuing. Purportedly, he has been charged with the possession of approximately 30 kilograms of drugs, including ketamine, cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine, as well as for its importing and trafficking.

The man is accused of being a significant member of a criminal syndicate, operating on dark net sites, running bitcoin accounts and legitimate businesses all to assist in trading illicit drugs.

A separate taskforce also sought to seize related assets.

Australia's anti-money laundering watchdog said on Friday it had suspended license of two cryptocurrency exchanges after a police investigation found the businesses were being exploited for drug trafficking.

Australian Federal Police detective superintendent Paul Hopkins stated: "Investigations such as this are inherently complex and the operational results achieved by the investigative team are a testament to good police work and strong inter-agency cooperation".

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Police ultimately took property valued in excess of $2 million, including cash, cryptocurrency, a motorbike (and motor vehicles), several bank accounts, and various real estate properties.

AUSTRAC National Manager, Regulatory Operations, Dr Nathan Newman, said that this outcome demonstrates the close collaboration between AUSTRAC and the AFP.

In a joint press release on March 8, AUSTRAC and the NSW Police Force reminded digital currency exchange providers about reporting obligations.

Dr. Newman said that they had given enough time and opportunity to cryptocurrency exchanges to comply with their amended Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. He added, "AUSTRAC's role is to deter and disrupt criminal exploitation of Australia's financial system and we take swift action where we there is a reasonable risk of compromise".

The authorities directed digital currency trading providers to register with AUSTRAC, verify their customers' identity, report suspicious matters, including over-the-counter cash transactions, and comply with record-keeping requirements, per the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 previous year.

"Any information about illicit activity by digital currency exchange providers that is provided to our squad - whether related to organised crime, terrorism, or technology-enabled crime - will be actively pursued in partnership with AUSTRAC".

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