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September 5, 2022

Australia cops create a crypto unit to track transactions

By establishing a specialized police unit, Australia law enforcement is striving to enhance its knowledge of crypto and track cryptocurrency transactions.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Monday that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has formed a new cryptocurrency section to concentrate on monitoring crypto-related transactions.

The national manager of the AFP’s criminal asset confiscation command, Stefan Jerga, said that the usage of cryptocurrencies in criminal activities has expanded dramatically since the AFP’s first crypto seizure in early 2018. Jerg said that in response, AFP decided to establish a specialized crypto team in August.

The heightened emphasis on unlawful crypto transactions is a result of the AFP capturing far more criminal assets than anticipated. The AFP said on Monday that it has accomplished its target of capturing $600 million from financial crimes two years earlier than expected. The goal was first established by the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce and was anticipated to be met by 2024.

Since February 2020, the AFP has confiscated $380 million in residential and commercial real estate, $200 million in cash and bank accounts, and $35 million in automobiles, yachts, planes, luxury goods, artwork, and cryptocurrency.

Jerga said that cryptocurrency seizures were modest in comparison to “conventional” illicit assets such as real estate and cash, but the added attention is anticipated to provide further insights.

The environment, according to the AFP manager, necessitated the formation of a separate team, as opposed to a large number of officers “acquiring a portion of this skill set as part of their overall role.” In addition to national security and child safety, he described the capacity to track crypto transactions across blockchains as “very, extremely vital.”

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A representative of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) expressed skepticism regarding the transparency of cryptocurrencies earlier this year.

John Moss, the deputy chief executive of AUSTRAC, said that the fact that cryptocurrencies could be used anonymously, rapidly, and across international boundaries made them “attractive to criminals,” including Neo-Nazi organizations.

Contrary to the common belief that Bitcoin (BTC) transactions are anonymous, Bitcoin transactions are not anonymous. Instead, they may be tracked openly with blockchain explorers.

Technically, it is conceivable to operate an anonymous BTC wallet, but it is becoming more difficult to perform anonymous BTC transactions due to the frequent association of transactions with users’ Know Your Customer data.