Cryptocurrency being used for money laundering and terror funding: Australia’s intel agency
As Moss expressed his concern over the donations made by Australians to terrorist groups, he mentioned that conventional money laundering methods have shifted to digital currency.
Amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Russian paramilitary forces are summoning cryptocurrency donations to buy weaponry, armour, and drones warned Australian intelligence agency Austrac. Officials at the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre referred to cryptocurrency as a ‘standard part of money laundering tool kit’.
John Moss, the agency’s head executive and head of intelligence, claimed that cryptocurrency has become mainstream, The Guardian reported. "It is no more a niche option for criminal activity," he said.
As Moss expressed his concern over the donations made by Australians to terrorist groups, he mentioned that conventional money laundering methods have shifted to digital currency. The prime reason behind the switch is to send money offshore.
Moss states that 'cryptocurrency' is an easy-to-use fundraiser, especially when combined with social media. However, Michael Tink, Austrac's national manager of intelligence operations, believes that contemporary fundraising via digital currency is not wide-ranging.
Australians have sent digital money to organised terror groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant), according to Austrac. "This is organisational support for travel, training, salaries of fighters, and uniforms," mentioned Tink.
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Earlier in 2022, UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) shut down all the bitcoin ATMs. However, unlike the UK, Australia has a rapidly growing number of regulated crypto ATMs. Moss raised concerns over their illegal usage and the increase in the number of fraud cases.
The finance agency has regulated crypto-exchange providers for money laundering and counter-terrorism financing objectives. However, Tink claims that the case is not the same everywhere. "It is not difficult to cash out crypto-currencies and fly under the radar in parts of Eastern Europe," said Tink.
Furthermore, the senior official at Austrac believes that the crooks are at high risk due to the money laundering cycle's placement stage. He hailed the sector for the quality of suspicious activities and referred to crypto exchanges in Australia as 'first in the line of defence'.
(With inputs from agencies)
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