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Australia watchdog suspends two crypto exchanges for links to drug trafficking

Mon, 11 Mar 2019, 06:33 am UTC

In a joint announcement, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said that they have suspended the registrations of two cryptocurrency exchange businesses.

The suspension orders were issued following the recent arrest of a 27-year-old Bulleen man, charged with importing, trafficking and possessing a total of approximately 30 kilograms of drugs, such as MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine.

According to the official release, the 27-year-old was a “key member” for the two digital currency exchange businesses. He played a key role in directing the operations of the criminal syndicate, which used various dark net sites, bitcoin accounts and legitimate business for the sourcing, payment and distribution of the illicit drugs.

“Following the arrests, AUSTRAC suspended the registration of two digital currency exchange businesses where the man was a key member, removing their ability to continue to conduct business,” it said.

In April 2018, Australia introduced amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, which included expanding the scope of the Act to include regulation of digital currency exchange providers.

In a joint announcement dated March 08, the NSW Police Force and AUSTRAC called upon the digital currency exchange providers to be aware of their obligations.

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 aim to protect industry from criminal exploitation and in turn, the Australian community.

“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,” Cybercrime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Matt Craft said.

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