Australia blames bitcoin for rise in organised crime

Australia blames bitcoin for rise in organised crime

The growth of online banking and digital currencies haver been cited as the main causes of a massive rise in organised crime in Australia's financial sector according to the country's criminal intelligence agency.

A report issued by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) this week estimated that money laundering and other financial crimes perpetrated by large criminal gangs are costing the country more than $28.43bn a year. 

The Australian authorities are especially concerned that e-commerce businesses and bitcoin exchanges are helping to facilitate organised crime due to the lack of transparency around the transactions and the use of encryption, potentially enabling criminal activity and tax evasion.

"Bitcoin, which can be traded anonymously and is as good as cash, is traded now on most significant international exchanges," said Justice Minister Michael Keenan. 

The report follows the introduction earlier this month of new legislation designed to bring digital currency exchanges under the same disclosure regime as banks and traditional exchanges. 

It also follows the charges levelled against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia of widespread breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules.

The report also highlighted the increase in money laundering through online betting sites, many of which are owned by international crime syndicates. Earlier this year, authorities fined the country's largest betting company Tabcorp Holdings $35m for beaches of anti-money laundering rules.

And while narcotics continues to be the main source of revenue for the nation's criminals, the report also listed the cost to the country from credit card fraud and identity theft as $411m and $1.74bn respectively. 

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