The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) announced several weeks ago that it was bringing a lawsuit against Commonwealth Bank based on some 53,700 violations of the nation’s anti-money-laundering and terrorist financing prevention laws. Late this week, the government announced that it is proposing new reforms designed to strengthen compliance with those laws – including new regulations that will directly affect digital currency exchanges.
Those reforms include new powers for Austrac, providing the agency with increased latitude to investigate possible terror financing and AML violations. In addition, the changes will give that agency greater oversight of digital currency exchanges. In a press release announcing the reforms, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan noted that these reforms would be the first regulations directly impacting digital currency exchanges, and explained why they are necessary:
"The threat of serious financial crime is constantly evolving, as new technologies emerge and criminals seek to nefariously exploit them. These measures ensure there is nowhere for criminals to hide."
While the reforms will almost certainly be opposed by some in the digital currency community, Gatecoin CEO Aurelien Menant sounded a more upbeat note in an email to CNBC. Menant suggested that the move could be beneficial for the digital currency economy, asserting that it could help encourage greater cryptocurrency adoption and fewer concerns about criminal use of the technology:
“It signifies the growing recognition of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as influential value transfer protocols by governments. Compliance with AUSTRAC policies will weed out the crooks and ensure that only serious bitcoin businesses are able to serve the market.”