Australia’s law enforcement agencies are working to increase cryptocurrency knowledge and track crypto transactions. A dedicated police unit has been established.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP), has created a new cryptocurrency unit that will focus on monitoring transactions related to crypto, The Australian Financial Review reported Monday.
Stefan Jerga is the national manager for the AFP’s criminal assets confiscation command. He stated that criminal activity using crypto has increased significantly since the AFP took its first crypto asset in early 2018. Jerga pointed out that the AFP had established a dedicated team for crypto in August as a response to this.
The increased attention on illicit crypto transactions is due to AFP seizing a lot of criminal assets that the authority hadn’t originally anticipated. Officially reporting Monday by the AFP that it had achieved its $600 million goal from financial crimes, two years earlier than expected, was Monday’s official report. The original target was set by the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Teamforce. It was expected that it would be met by 2024.
The AFP has seized $380million in residential and commercial property, $200million in cash and bank account funds, $35 million in cars and boats, $35 million in luxury items, art, and cryptocurrencies since February 2020. Jerga pointed out that crypto seizures were not as large as those involving property or cash. However, the extra focus will provide more insight.
The AFP manager said that the environment prompted the creation of a separate team. This is in contrast to many officers “picking-up some of this skill set as a part of their overall roles.”
An official from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, (AUSTRAC), expressed doubts about cryptocurrency transparency earlier this year. John Moss, AUSTRAC’s deputy chief executive, stated that cryptocurrencies can be anonymously used quickly and over international borders. This makes them attractive to criminals, including neoNazi groups.
Related: A legal expert suggests that law enforcement should stop trying to gain access to everyone’s data.
Contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin transactions (BTC), while not anonymous, can be tracked publicly through blockchain explorers. Although it is technically possible to operate an anonymous BTC wallet it is becoming more difficult to do anonymous BTC transactions as transactions are often associated with Know Your Customer data.