Australia Crypto news: AFP’s officer statement
According to Stefan Jerga, national manager of the AFP’s criminal asset confiscation command, the use of cryptocurrency in illegal activity has increased significantly since the AFP’s first crypto seizure in early 2018. In response, the law enforcement organisation established a dedicated crypto team in August.
The increased emphasis on illegal crypto transactions comes as the AFP seizes far more criminal assets than expected. The AFP announced Monday that it had met its goal of capturing $600 million in financial crimes two years ahead of schedule. The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce initially set the target, which was expected to be met by 2024.
The organisation has seized $380 million in residential and commercial property, $200 million in cash and bank accounts, and $35 million in automobiles, boats, aircraft, artwork, luxury items, and cryptocurrencies since February 2020.
While the amount of cryptocurrency seized was small compared to cash and property, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw stated that a focus on cryptocurrency provided benefits through great intelligence insights into the business models of organised crime.
According to the AFP manager, the environment prompted forming a separate team, as opposed to many officers “picking up some of this skill set as part of their overall role.” He said that the ability to trace crypto transactions across blockchains is “really, really important,” alongside national security, child protection, and other considerations.
Earlier this year, an official at the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) raised scepticism about cryptocurrency transparency. According to AUSTRAC deputy chief executive John Moss, cryptocurrencies are “attractive for criminals,” including neo-Nazi groups, because they can be used anonymously, quickly, and across international borders.
The original white paper published in 2008, introducing blockchain technology, Bitcoin transactions, has been marketed as entirely anonymous and private. Although researchers have recently demonstrated traceability through unintentional patterns in Bitcoin transactional data – the larger a data set, the more patterns appear. Patterns can also be identified and tracked. Governments are strengthening their infrastructure to track cryptocurrency transactions.
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