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Australia’s Government Facing More Pressure For Lack of Banking Oversight

The government of Australia is facing new pressure this weekend over its initial desire not to launch an inquiry into the banking sector, which is plagued by misconduct and a lack of regulatory oversight.

According to a report in Reuters, that pressure is resulting in a change of heart for some lawmakers. Minister for Finance and Revenue Kelly O'Dwyer said the Royal Commission investigation, which she had previously called an inquiry looking for something to investigate, would now benefit customers. She was asked on state broadcaster ABC nine times if the government wished it launched the Royal Commission sooner, but she wouldn't answer any of the times. Meanwhile, Labor’s shadow finance minister, Jim Chalmers, told ABC the government’s slow response to widespread misconduct in the banking industry demonstrated the government is uninformed in its thinking. “They’ve learnt absolutely nothing from all of the scandalous revelations that we’ve heard over the last little while in the Royal Commission,” he said, according to Reuters.

The Royal Commission was established in November — after the opposition Labor and Green parties called for it — following a series of scandals at some of the largest banks in Australia. Treasurer Scott Morrison, who previously was very against the Royal Commission, is now strongly in support of it because of more bank wrongdoings coming out seemingly every day. The government has said it will increase penalties for corporate wrongdoing and is looking at whether or not to extend the Commission’s one-year mandate an additional year. That would take the inquiry into the 2019 election, noted the report.

While politics continue to play out with the Royal Commission, Australians appear to be on board with regulating cryptocurrency. Reuters reported earlier this month that the country has moved oversight of digital currency providers to its financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC. The shift is immediate, reported the newswire, and represents the first steps to strengthen efforts under the country’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act. All exchange providers that traffic in cryptocurrencies within Australia’s borders must register with the agency. Reuters reported the move is aimed at reducing the risk of money laundering and terrorism financing.

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