Legal

Australian Parliament Approves Anti-Money Laundering Legislation

The Australian Senate has passed legislation extending anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulation of digital currency exchanges.

The legislation, which was passed last week, requires these exchanges to monitor and report suspicious and large transactions to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

The new regulations follow Parliament’s approval of legislation in October that recognized digital currencies as equivalent to money, and removed the potential use of these currencies to be subject to double goods and services taxation.

While some central banks have announced a complete prohibition on the use of digital currencies to make payments, Australia has supported a regulated digital currency industry. The country is understood to be one of only a handful – the other being Japan – to have moved to make amendments to both its tax and AML/CTF laws to recognize digital currencies.

“To enable further growth of the digital currency industry in Australia, this is a milestone achievement that will allow for an equal regulatory playing field, and should only solidify consumer trust in this new industry,” said Nicolas Steiger, FlashFX chief enabling officer and co-lead of the FinTech Australia Blockchain Working Group.

Under the legislation, digital currency exchange providers will be required to enroll with the AUSTRAC and register on the Digital Currency Exchange Register maintained by AUSTRAC; adopt and maintain a program to identify, mitigate and manage the money laundering and terrorism financing risks they may face; identify and verify the identities of their customers; report suspicious matters, international transactions and transactions involving physical currency that exceeds $10,000 or more (or foreign equivalent) to AUSTRAC; and keep certain records related to transactions, customer identification and their program for seven years.

FinTech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho said the legislation’s approval reaffirmed Australia’s ability to develop sensible, orderly, FinTech-friendly regulation, which both protects consumers and society and allows new industries to thrive.

“The Australian Government has worked closely with the nation’s FinTech industry over some time in developing and drafting this legislation,” she said. “Now that it is in place, the legislation will help bring further legitimacy to exchanges operating in Australia, unlocking the benefits of digital currency usage and trading whilst ensuring this is done in an appropriate way. Overall, this development is the latest in a series of important steps that will ensure Australia’s blockchain and digital currency industry remains one of the most highly regarded and vibrant in the world.”

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