The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) announced on Friday that it has taken the licenses of two crypto currency exchanges, after a police investigation linked their operations to drug trafficking.
This is the first case, in which AUSTRAC acts in such a manner after a new law, adopted in April 2018 and aimed at tightening the anti-money laundering control, broadened the agency’s scope of responsibilities over all crypto exchanges in the country.
The Australian Police and AUSTRAC came with a joint statement, citing the arrest of a “key person”, in the management of the two crypto exchanges, in connection to importing, trafficking and possessing of about 30 kg of prohibited substances, including cocaine.
The suspect has allegedly organized a criminal syndicate for drug distribution through Dark Net web sites and bitcoin accounts.
“While cash is still ‘king’, digital currencies are fast becoming the preferred choice for organized criminal networks involved in money laundering, funding terrorism, and cybercrimes,” Cybercrime Squad commander, Detective Superintendent Matt Craft said in a press release, cited by Reuters. “Let this be a warning to digital currency exchange providers: if you fail to comply with your obligations, your actions will not go unnoticed.”
According to a recent report cited by Reuters the amount of all cryoto currency scams for 2018 has risen with more than 400% year on year to the staggering 1,7 billion USD.