Australian money cops gain powers to regulate cryptocurrency

Money laundering and terror finance laws will stretch to cover digi-dollars

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Australia has decided digital currencies need the same level of regulation enjoyed by other currencies.

Justice minister Michael Keenan yesterday announced an intention to “strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act” and give more digi-dollar regulatory powers to the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

Describing the current state of affairs as a “regulatory gap”, the minister said the decision to bring digital currencies under the same laws as other currencies has been taken after consultation with “ industry and our national security agencies.”

“The threat of serious financial crime is constantly evolving, as new technologies emerge and criminals seek to nefariously exploit them,” Keenan gravely intoned. “These measures ensure there is nowhere for criminals to hide.”

There's a draft of the upgraded Act for your consideration. It defines a digital currency as "a digital representation of value that:

(i) functions as a medium of exchange, a store of economic value, or a unit of account; and (ii) is not issued by or under the authority of a government body; and (iii) is interchangeable with money (including through the crediting of an account) and may be used as consideration for the supply of goods or services; and (iv) is generally available to members of the public without any restriction on its use as consideration."

The draft also calls for the creation of a Digital Currency Exchange Register so that AUSTRAC knows who to regulate.

Australia's decision aligns it with other nations. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre last week included “Cyber criminal use of cryptocurrency” in its weekly Threat List. China and Japan have also moved to regulate digital currency exchanges.



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