Australia’s law enforcement agencies are working to increase cryptocurrency knowledge and track crypto transactions. A dedicated police unit has been established.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP), has created a new cryptocurrency unit that will focus on monitoring crypto transactions. The Australian Financial Review reported Monday.
Stefan Jerga is the national manager for the AFP’s criminal assets confiscation command. He stated that criminal activity using crypto has increased significantly since the AFP took its first crypto asset in early 2018. Jerga pointed out that the AFP had established a dedicated team for crypto in August as a response to this.
The increased attention on illicit crypto transactions is due to AFP seizing a lot of criminal assets that it had not expected. Officially , the AFP reported Monday that it had achieved its $600 million goal from financial crimes two more years earlier than expected. The original target was set by the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Teamforce, and was expected be met by 2024.
The AFP has seized $380million in residential and commercial property, $200,000,000 in cash and bank account accounts, $35 million in cars and boats, $35 million in luxury items, luxury goods, and cryptocurrencies since February 2020. Jerga pointed out that crypto seizures were not as large as those involving property or cash. However, the extra focus will provide more insight.
The AFP manager said that the environment prompted the creation of a separate team. This is in contrast to many officers “picking-up some of this skill set as a part of their overall roles.”
An official from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, (AUSTRAC), expressed doubts about cryptocurrency transparency earlier this year. John Moss , AUSTRAC deputy chief executive, argued that cryptocurrencies can be anonymously used quickly and across international borders. This makes them attractive to criminals, including neoNazi groups.
Related: A legal expert suggests that law enforcement should stop trying to gain access to everyone’s data.
Contrary to popular belief that Bitcoin ( Bitcoin) is anonymized, Bitcoin transactions do not remain anonymous. Instead, they can be tracked publicly through blockchain explorers. Although it technically is possible to operate an anonymous BTC wallet it is becoming more difficult to do transactions anonymously because transactions are often associated with Know Your Customer data.