This is a joint media release between the NSW Police Force and AUSTRAC.
The NSW Police Force and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) are reminding digital currency exchange providers to be aware of their obligations following amendments to Commonwealth legislation last year.
In April 2018, amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 were introduced, which included expanding the scope of the Act to include regulation of digital currency exchange providers.
These changes included registering with AUSTRAC, verifying customer identity, reporting suspicious matters and over-threshold cash transactions; and complying with record-keeping requirements.
AUSTRAC National Manager for Regulatory Operations, Dr Nathan Newman, said AUSTRAC worked closely with digital currency exchange providers to prepare them for these laws, which are in place to protect industry from criminal exploitation and in turn, the Australian community.
“Digital currency exchange providers have had adequate time and opportunity to comply with these new laws and AUSTRAC has already refused the registration of two digital currency exchange providers. We continue to actively monitor the sector’s compliance,” Dr Newman said.
“It’s important that digital currency exchange providers meet their obligations so we can identify any instances of criminal activity using their services to launder money, fund terrorism or commit other serious crimes.”
Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Matt Craft, said this is a timely reminder to those who deal in digital currencies to ensure they are meeting their obligations.
“While cash is still ‘king’, digital currencies are fast becoming the preferred choice for organised criminal networks involved in money laundering, funding terrorism, and cybercrimes,” Det Supt Craft said.
“These amendments were implemented to ensure digital currencies were being monitored in the same ways as cash exchanges and transfers.
“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.
“Let this be a warning to digital currency exchange providers: if you fail to comply with your obligations, your actions will not go unnoticed.”
Det Supt Craft added that an increase in popularity of Dark Net marketplaces will also mean increased targeting by law enforcement.
“Given the perceived anonymity of the Dark Net, Australian criminal groups are starting to favour the online environment to conduct illicit business,” Det Supt Craft said.
“With police and our partners proactively targeting this space, I’ll assure these networks that their anonymity is no longer guaranteed.”
More information about digital currency exchange providers’ obligations under the Act is available at: http://www.austrac.gov.au/digital-currency-exchange-providers.
Anyone with information about non-compliant digital currency exchanges or the facilitation of serious and organised crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police Force social media pages.
NSW Police Force Media Unit (02) 8263 6100
AUSTRAC Media (02) 9950 0488