Australian Federal Police Established a Crypto Unit to Target Criminals (Report)

The Australian Federal Police – an independent agency responsible for investigating crime and protecting the country’s national security – reportedly formed a new cryptocurrency unit. The goal is to detect criminals who use digital assets in their activities, such as money launderers, and bring them to justice.

Applying strict regulations on the digital asset sector has been a mission for the Aussie government for a while now. Last year, former Federal Treasurer – Josh Frydenberg – said a “comprehensive payments and crypto-asset reform plan” is on the agenda for 2022. Earlier this year, the nation’s newly-elected Prime Minister – Anthony Albanese – doubled down on those plans.

Australia’s Latest Crypto Step

According to a recent coverage, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) set its focus on criminals that use digital assets in their illegal activities and, thus, bypass existing laws. The national agency manager – Stefan Jerga – said the employment of cryptocurrencies in such operations had significantly increased compared to 2018.

Keeping the current trends in mind, the AFP established a special cryptocurrency unit that will aim to encounter and punish wrongdoers for facilitating money laundering or other financial crimes with the help of bitcoin or altcoins.

“The environment was such that we felt a standalone team [was required], rather than a lot of officers picking up some of this skill set as part of their overall role. So we’ve now got a dedicated team that continues to grow,” Jerga explained.

The agency further stated that its target is to restrain over $400 million in proceeds of crime by the end of the financial year 2024. In February 2020, it confiscated $260 million in residential and commercial property, $135 million in cash and bank accounts, and $24 million in cars, artworks, luxury items, and cryptocurrencies.

John Moss – Deputy Chief Executive of AUSTRAC – also supported the launch of the new unit, claiming that cryptocurrencies had become a part of the everyday financial ecosystem and “criminals continue to adapt and find new ways to exploit emerging technologies.”

Crypto Regulation – a Priority in Australia

At the end of 2021, the Australian politician and former Federal Treasurer – Josh Frydenberg – revealed that the country’s authorities aim to enforce a cryptocurrency reform plan in 2022. The legislation was expected to enhance innovation, grant consumers additional protection, and turn the nation into a global digital asset leader.

In March this year, the Australian Labor Party won the government elections, while its political leader – Anthony Albanese – became the next Prime Minister. Upon stepping into office, the new cabinet announced it will focus its efforts on three main issues: climate change (massive fires and floods often ravage Australia), the galloping inflation, and applying comprehensive rules to the domestic crypto sector.

A few weeks ago, the government doubled down on its intentions, vowing to identify which digital assets are widely used in the country and place them under a regulatory framework before the year’s end. The process, called “token mapping,” should ensure maximum protection for investors.

“With the increasingly widespread proliferation of crypto assets — to the extent that crypto advertisements can be seen plastered all over big sporting events — we need to make sure customers engaging with crypto are adequately informed and protected,” Treasurer Chalmers said.

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