Australia strengthens money laundering laws
Written by Chris Lemmon
The Australian government has revealed plans to strengthen its anti-money laundering laws and regulate digital currencies, following an investigation into alleged violations by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA).
The new legislation brings digital currencies, such as the likes of Bitcoin, under the remit of Australia’s crime fighting agency Austrac, which initiated legal action against CBA for breaches of money laundering and terrorism financing laws earlier this month. The investigation and enforcement powers of Austrac have also been increased.
This marks the first time that Australia’s cryptocurrency sector will be regulated, in a move which is likely to frustrate users who wish to remain anonymous.
Michael Keenan, Australia’s justice minister, said: “Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defences and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime.
“The threat of serious financial crime is constantly evolving, as new technologies emerge and criminals seek to nefariously exploit them. These measures ensure there is nowhere for criminals to hide.”
The move follows similar regulations which have been passed in China and Japan. The People’s Bank of China warned cryptocurrency exchanges that they would be closed if they violated anti-money laundering laws, prompting an improvement in their systems. Japan recently passed new legislation accepting bitcoin as a legal currency – leading to a surge in demand for the currency by investors, while major retailers are beginning to accept bitcoin as a payment.