Tag: AUSTRAC

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Australia’s New AML Rules: Reducing the Anonymity of Digital Currencies
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Federal Government extends AML/CTF regulation to capture digital currency exchanges
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Possible AML implications for FinTechs

Australia’s New AML Rules: Reducing the Anonymity of Digital Currencies

By Jim Bulling and Edwin Tan

The Australian Government has recently decided to regulate Digital Currency Exchange (DCE) providers, as they have inherent money-laundering and terrorism financing risks stemming from their high degree of anonymity and ease of cross-border transactions.  As part of this regulation, DCE providers must provide regular reports to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).  These reports must include, if known, the social media identifiers, unique device identifiers and digital wallet addresses of the relevant customer.

Many digital currencies operate on public blockchains that contain records of all transactions ever made, which is essential to their transaction validation and anti-tampering features.  This public nature enables every client on the blockchain network to verify that any currency used in relation to a transaction actually exists, by looking through the transaction history of a particular digital wallet address.  As such, being able to link digital wallet addresses to particular individuals will, over time, give AUSTRAC the power to trace suspicious transactions up the chain back to an individual.  It may also be possible for the Australian Taxation Office to use this information in the future to ensure that individuals correctly report any capital gains resulting from the trading of digital currency for taxation purposes.

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Federal Government extends AML/CTF regulation to capture digital currency exchanges

By Michelle Chasser and Felix Charlesworth

On Thursday 17 August 2017, the Minister for Justice tabled the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017 (Bill).

The Bill will extend the Australian AML regime to cover digital currency exchange providers. Currently the AML regime applies only to ‘e-currencies’ which are backed by physical things such as bullion or precious metals while digital currencies backed by a cryptographic algorithm such as Bitcoin are excluded. The Bill repeals the definition of ‘e-currency’ and replaces it with the broader term ‘digital currency’ which is defined as a digital representation of value that:

  • functions as a medium of exchange;
  • is not issued by the authority of a government body;
  • is interchangeable with money; and
  • is generally available to members of the public.

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Possible AML implications for FinTechs

By Jim Bulling and Michelle Chasser

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is encouraging FinTech businesses to make contact about Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime (AML/CTF regime) and how it may affect their business. A dedicated online contact form has been established which allows enquiries to be made directly to the Policy and Guidance team.

Businesses which provide a ‘designated service’ are reporting entities which have obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. There are a number of designated services that a FinTech business may provide including making loans, issuing a stored value card, giving effect to remittance arrangements, issuing interests in a managed investment scheme and (in the capacity of an Australian financial services licensee) arranging for a person to receive a designated service.

Currently activities relating to digital currencies such as BitCoin are not designated services. However, in October 2016 the Attorney General’s Department released its draft project plan for the implementation of the recommendations from the statutory review of the AML/CTF regime. Under the project plan, legislative proposals to regulate digital currencies under the AML/CTF regime will be developed by the first half of 2017.

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