Australia Cracks Down On Bitcoin Exchanges; Shrugs Off Banks' "Systemic" Money-Laundering Violations

from ZeroHedge:

Australian Government Is Cracking Down On The Nonexistent Bitcoin Money-Laundering Epidemic

Australia’s largest banks can’t seem to go six months without a new scandal. In April, regulators accused Commonwealth Bank, one of the country’s largest financial institutions, of “systemic” money laundering violations, sparking an investigation into the broader banking sector, and the promise of heavy-handing civil penalties.

But instead of pursuing penalties that could lead to lasting reforms, Australia's regulators are cracking down on bitcoin, creating a new set of guidelines that will make it more difficult for customers to trade on local cryptocurrency exchanges by mandating needless anti-money laundering controls. They're prioritizing bitcoin over banks even though all relevant data suggest that organized criminal enterprises and terrorist groups overwhelmingly prefer to transact in cash.

According to Bitcoin.com, Australia’s Coalition Government has introduced a bill that would regulate digital currency exchanges, introducing “reforms” that will “strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and increase the powers of the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (Austrac).”  

Here’s Bitcoin.com with more:

"Among other proposals, the bill will “strengthen Austrac’s investigation and enforcement powers” as well as “close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of Austrac,” the announcement reads, adding that:

‘The bill provides a net regulatory relief to industry of $36 million annually, with the digital currency exchange sector being regulated for the first time, while deregulating low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit, which is already subject to state and territory licensing requirements.’”

As Bitcoin.com explains, Australia’s new AML rules resemble regulations adopted by Japan and China over the past 18 months. In China, the crackdown on intraday high frequency trading triggered a decline in trading volume that caused the country to surrender its position as the bitcoin market leader.

“Earlier this year, following investigations by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), many Chinese bitcoin exchanges halted bitcoin withdrawals to extensively upgrade their systems for the purpose of AML and KYC compliance. Also the European Union has been discussing how to impose rules on bitcoin exchanges as part of its Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.”

Meanwhile, in what looks like an effort to compensate bitcoin traders for the overly stringent new regulations, Australia ended the double taxation treatment of bitcoin in July.

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