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Australian Financial Watchdog Suspends Registration Of Two Crypto Exchanges

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Australian Financial watchdog has suspended the registrations of two digital currency exchange (DCE) businesses. The action came after the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested a 27-year-old man, who is associated with the DCE's, for his involvement with an organized crime syndicate.

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) suspended the two DCE's, where the man was a key member, and removed their ability to continue to lawfully operate their businesses. The names of the DCE's were not revealed by AUSTRAC.

AUSTRAC is Australia's financial intelligence agency and AML/CTF regulator. It was set up to monitor financial transactions to identify money laundering, organized crime, tax evasion, welfare fraud and terrorism. Its role is to deter and disrupt criminal exploitation of Australia's financial system.

Prior to the man's arrest, the AFP executed search warrants in the Melbourne suburbs of Bulleen, and seized steroids, Australian currency and cryptocurrency related items from him.

The man was charged with importing, trafficking and possessing a total of about 30 kilograms of drugs, such as MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine.

AFP reveals that the man is alleged to have played a key role in directing the operations of the criminal syndicate, which used various dark net sites, bitcoin accounts and legitimate business for the sourcing, payment and distribution of the illicit drugs.

The arrest was part of a larger investigation into those responsible for allegedly importing border controlled drugs via international mail into Melbourne. Two men were earlier charged for drug trafficking offences in October 2017.

Regulators around the world are closely watching cryptocurrencies amid concerns over using them widely for money laundering and drug trafficking by criminals. The virtual monetary system is often abused by hackers, international drug dealers, and the money movers of organized crime.

In one of the largest ever drug raids in Europe last year, European law enforcement authorities seized more than 4.5 million euros in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies along with 800,000 doses of LSD.

The police arrested eight people accused of drug trafficking, money laundering by selling cryptocurrencies, mainly Bitcoins, and membership of a criminal organization. The arrests were made after searching six houses in Spain and one in Austria.

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