AUSTRAC Halts Two Crypto Exchanges for Organized Crime Investigation (AUSCOIN ATM and SK BTC)

AUSTRAC, the financial intelligence agency of Australia recently suspended two crypto businesses on the grounds of their alleged links to an organized crime syndicate. The shutdown of these exchanges followed the arrest of a Melbourne man aged 27-years old on the charges of drug trafficking offenses by the Australian Federal Police on Thursday.

The suspension of the crypto exchanges as part of an organized crime syndicate led to the arrest during the second phase of the investigation. Already, there have been changes laid against two individuals.

Australian publication, itnews reported that the AFP officers have executed search warrants in the Melbourne suburbs of Bulleen, Templestowe Lower, and Malvern. The police are seizing not only the cryptocurrency related items but also the Australian currency along with steroids.

Suspension & Arrest

The police allege the man has been playing the key role in directing the operations of the criminal syndicate. The man in question, “used various dark net sites, bitcoin accounts and legitimate business for the sourcing, payment and distribution of the illicit drugs”.

Subsequently, AUSTRAC pulled the registration of “two digital currency exchange business.” Here, Australian Federal Police said the man arrested has been a key member whose arrest made it possible to remove the “ability to continue to conduct business.”

“AUSTRAC’s role is to deter and disrupt criminal exploitation of Australia’s financial system and we take swift action where there is a reasonable risk of compromise,” said Dr. Nathan Newman, the regulatory operations national manager.

He further said AUSTRAC’s “decision to suspend the registration of the two business means they can no longer lawfully operate”.

At the end of 2017, legislation has been passed that gave AUSTRAC the authority to monitor the local cryptocurrency exchanges through Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017 that applies to financial institutions that deal in fiat currency like banks as well.

The bill introduced in August to combat the threat of financial crime was the first time regulating the country's digital asset sector.

This involves registering with the agency, verification of the customer's’ identity, keeping the records for seven years, and reporting any “suspicious” transactions that further involves those that are more than $10,000.

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