Cryptocurrencies facing new AUSTRAC rules

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On 16 January 2018, AUSTRAC released proposed draft rules, following the enactment of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Act 2017.  These draft rules will directly affect Digital Currency Providers, by expanding the scope of the legislation to include regulation of digital currency exchange providers. In brief, this regulation will be in the form of mandatory registration and compliance obligations.

Under the proposed changes, Providers will have new obligations under the AML/CTF regime, requiring them to:

  • adopt and maintain an AML/CTF program;
  • conduct thorough customer identification and due diligence;
  • comply with suspicious matter reporting and threshold transaction reporting; and
  • comply with all record keeping requirements under the regime; and
  • Providers will also be required to register with AUSTRAC under a regime similar to the current registers for the remittance industry.

Further, the proposed changes will require digital currency providers to provide the information in circumstances warranting a reportable transaction:

  • the denomination or code of the digital currency and the number of digital currency units;
  • where known, the equivalent total amount of digital currency in Australian dollars;
  • where known, a description of the digital currency including details of the backing asset or thing;
  • where known, the Internet Protocol address information of the beneficiary and/or payee;
  • where known, the social media identifiers of the beneficiary and/or payee;
  • where known, the unique identifiers relating to the digital currency wallet(s) of the beneficiary and/or payee; and
  • where known, the unique device identifiers of the beneficiary and/or payee relating.

To view the Explanatory Note and draft AML/CTF Rules click here.  The draft rules remain open for public comment until 13 February 2018.