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Australia Eyes New Currency Regs That Could Crack Down On Bitcoin

Australia’s government has announced new regulations intended at strengthening the nation’s anti-money laundering efforts. The proposed legislation — which the government says will be fully outlined in a coming bill — will put bitcoin providers under the government's financial intelligence unit. The bill will also increase the investigative and enforcement powers of the financial intelligence agency.

The new legislation is intended to be the first step in building out the nation's Anti-Money Laundering And Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

"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," Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said, without specifying when the legislation would be introduced.

The news comes days after the financial intelligence agency accused Commonwealth Bank of Australia of "serious and systemic" breaches of money laundering laws — and two years after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) found significant problems in how Australia deals with AML issues.

Part two of the process to rectify that situation is commonly held to be the harder part: extending the rules to lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and dealers in high-value goods. Australia allows for consumers to pay millions in cash for for precious stones or real estate without having to explain or document the source of the original funds.

"Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defenses and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime," Keenan said.

The digital currency exchange sector, which includes bitcoin, will be regulated for the first time, Keenan added.

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