Australia’s financial watchdog, the Australian Transactions Report and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) recently announced the withdrawal of licenses previously issued to three cryptocurrency exchanges. According to the anti-money laundering (AML) agency, the affected crypto exchanges were alleged to be connected to criminal activities.
Crypto Licenses Withdrawn on Suspicion of Criminal Activities
Per a report by iTnews, two of the affected virtual currency exchanges, AUSCOIN ATM and MK Buy & Sell shut down operations earlier this year, as authorities accused the companies of having ties to organized crime. The suspensions occurred shortly after authorities nabbed Sam Karagiozis, founder of AUSCOIN, for allegedly trafficking drugs.
The third exchange which had its license revoked was Howzart Domains, although the reason for the withdrawal is reportedly unconnected to the Sam Karagiozis case.
According to a spokesperson for AUSTRAC, the Australian financial watchdog had the right to suspend or revoke a company’s license or registration if suspected of criminal activity. The spokesperson buttressed, saying:
“AUSTRAC can suspend and/or cancel a registration if it is believed that a business or organization poses an unacceptable risk of money laundering, terrorism financing, or other serious crime. This includes where an individual associated with the business is charged and convicted of a money laundering, terrorism financing or other serious offenses.”
Although the Australian AML agency revoked the license of the three exchanges back in September 2019, the watchdog just officially released details. An announcement of this kind is a first since April 2018 when the AML agency was given authority to monitor the activities of Australian digital currency exchanges.
Back in November 2019, AUSTRAC also suspended a crypto exchange company, Cryptocurrency Transaction Machines.
Australia Clampdown on Illicit Activities Involving Cryptocurrency
The Australian government, like most governments and regulatory agencies, constantly warn investors against investing in cryptocurrency because of the high risk and volatility involved. Furthermore, the country is keen on fishing out bad actors who use digital currency and exchanges for carrying out illicit activities.
As reported by BTCManager in November 2019, Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, stated that criminals were still using virtual currency for terrorism. According to the Australian government official, the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies made it easier for terrorists to conceal their activities.
In October 2018, AUSTRAC increased its investigation of crypto exchanges due to concerns bordering on money laundering and terrorist funding.
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