Australia moves to regulate bitcoins

As a first step, cryptocurrency providers in Australia will have to register themselves with AUSTRAC and comply with KYC norms.

On Wednesday, in a move aimed minimizing the risks surrounding cryptocurrencies, Australia has brought the country’s cryptocurrency providers under the purview of its financial intelligence unit, so as to monitor and take necessary action against money laundering, cybercrime and terrorism financing.

All digital currency exchange providers which operate in Australia will have to register with AUSTRAC, said the government agency in a statement.

The rules, effective immediately, is part of the first stage of reforms that are aimed at strengthening the country’s Anti-Money Laundering And Counter Terrorism Financing Act (AML/CTF).

The move comes in the wake of AUSTRAC initiating a lawsuit against Commonwealth Bank of Australia for breaches of money laundering laws.

Rules under the AML/CTF Act require that every regulated entity, including money transfer operators and banks, should comply with Know Your Customer (KYC) norms, monitor transactions, and report any activity that is deemed suspicious or involves cash more than $7,755 (A$10,000).

“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,” said Nicole Rose, chief executive officer of Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. “The information that these businesses will collect and report to AUSTRAC will have immediate benefit in the fight against serious crime and terrorism financing.”

The development comes in the wake of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) finding significant deficiencies in Australia’s anti-money laundering framework.

The next phase of legislative reforms will widen the net and include accountants, lawyers, real estate agents and dealers in high-value goods.

($1 = 1.2895 Australian dollars)

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