Australia’s financial sector has experienced a major increase in organized crime. The country’s criminal intelligence agency reported that this rise is due to the growth of online banking systems and increased popularity of cryptocurrencies.
Recently, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) published a report, in which the agency stated that the expected damage of the money laundering and further financial crimes – conducted by organized criminal gangs – costs the country over $28.43 billion annually.
Australian authorities claim that e-commerce businesses and cryptocurrency exchanges lack the transparency regarding the transparency of the transactions and the use of encryption. Therefore, according to the ACIC, the exchanges and e-commerce businesses are facilitating the organized crime since the criminals can take advantage of the anonymity of the websites to evade tax and conduct other illegal activities.
“Bitcoin, which can be traded anonymously and is as good as cash, is traded now on most significant international exchanges,” Justice Minister Michael Keenan said in a statement.
To strengthen the anti-money laundering laws of the country, Australia is seeking to follow Japan’s path to regulate cryptocurrencies. Lawmakers proposed reforms, in which cryptocurrency exchanges will be placed under the remit of Australia’s financial crime fighting agency, Austrac.
“Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defenses and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime,” Mr. Keenan said.
The Japanese government acted in a similar manner when the country regulated cryptocurrencies. By October 1, all bitcoin, altcoin exchanges and money transfer businesses that are seeking to operate in the country must come under the regulatory supervision of the Japan Financial Services Agency. Furthermore, the exchanges will be supervised by officials at least once a year to see that the businesses are complying with the regulations.
While regulating the digital currency sector, the Australian government also plans to deregulate low-risk sectors in the country, such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements, Mr. Keenan said.
The ACIC’s report also revealed the increase of money laundering through online betting sites, which are, according to the government agency, mostly owned by international organized crime groups. Earlier this year, the tax authorities in Australia fined Tabcorp Holdings, Australia’s largest betting company, for $35 million since the firm breached the country’s money laundering laws.
The report also highlighted that narcotics is the main source of the income of organized criminals. Furthermore, the ACIC listed other criminal activities, which are trending now. The agency reported that credit card fraud causes $411 million while identity fraud causes $1.74 billion of damage each year. Both crimes are quite popular among darknet criminals. After a successful breach on a government agency, institute or a company, the cybercriminals often advertise the stolen personal information (including credit card and banking data) on the dark web for sale.