The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has launched a criminal investigative unit focused on cryptocurrencies to crack down on money laundering and other related illegal activities surrounding the asset class, the Australian Financial Review reported Monday.
Per the report, Stefan Jerga, the AFP officer in charge of Assets Confiscation Command, noted that there had been increased use of digital assets in criminal-related activities since the unit’s last seizure of the assets in 2018, hence the need to open the crypto dedicated unit.
“The environment was such that we felt a standalone team (as required), rather than a lot of officers picking up some of this skill set as part of their overall role. So we’ve now got a dedicated team that continues to grow,” said Jerga.
More Than Just a Crypto Team
Jerga also noted that the new team will not be limited to targeting crypto assets; rather, its work will cut across other areas of the AFP command, including national security, child protection, and cyber protections.
Additionally, the just-established task force will also be able to trace suspected transactions on various blockchains to crack down on criminals.
“It’s targeting assets, but it’s also providing that valuable, investigative tracing capability and lens for all of our commands across all of our businesses, whether they’re national security-related, child protection, cyber – or the ability to trace cryptocurrency transactions across the relevant blockchains is really important,” Jerga added.
Criminal Assets Confiscation Command
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershawin launched the Criminal Assets Confiscation Command in 2020 with the aim of generating $600 million in crime proceeds by the end of 2024.
So far, the unit has confiscated $380 million in residential and commercial property, $200 million in cash and bank accounts, and $35 million from cars, boats, luxury items, and cryptocurrencies.
Jerga noted that while crypto gains are smaller than traditional assets confiscated from criminals, the task provided additional insights.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities have been trying to enact a comprehensive regulatory framework for using cryptocurrencies in the country.
Last year, the Senate Select Committee as a Technology and Financial Center started looking into how to provide healthy regulatory guidelines to protect investors’ interests.
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