Following the Coalition Government’s announcement of its first stage of reforms to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, FinTech Australia’s CEO, Danielle Szetho, issued a statement on the situation.
According to a press release issued by the Australian Minister of Justice, the new bill will do the following:
- Close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of AUSTRAC
- Strengthen AUSTRAC’s investigation and enforcement powers
- Increase police and customs officers’ search and seizure powers at the border
- Provide regulatory relief to industry through the deregulation of low-risk industry sectors.
It was also revealed:
“The reforms implement the first phase of the recommendations of the Statutory Review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, following extensive consultation with industry and our national security agencies. These reforms appropriately balance the threat of organised crime and terrorism financing to the Australian community with ensuring excessive regulation doesn’t hinder our financial sectors.
The Bill provides regulatory relief of $36 million annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements. Recognizing emerging technology as strategically important is an important aspect of these new rules
“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. Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defences and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime. AUSTRAC has a strong track record in ensuring our financial institutions comply with the law. The private sector is an essential partner in ensuring Australian businesses are not exploited by criminals, and I thank industry for their constructive engagement during the development of this Bill. Engagement with industry is the bedrock of our money-laundering and terrorism-financing deterrence.”
“FinTech Australia’s Blockchain and Digital Currency members welcome the Bill for AUSTRAC to regulate digital currency exchange providers because we see Australia as a world-leading digital currency and blockchain market. We have been consulting with AUSTRAC and the Attorney General for the past six months to ensure the proposed regulations appropriately defined Digital Currencies, but also allow room for the industry to grow.”
“This reform comes at a time where the digital currency market is reaching maturity, so they are necessary to legitimise digital currency activities for broader consumer use. The list of use cases for digital currencies – for consumers, businesses and governments – are growing rapidly, and industry recognises that this regulation is important to ensure the sustainable and long-term growth of this sector.”