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The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed that it received more than 1,200 complaints relating to cryptocurrencies via its ‘Scamwatch’ portal during 2017. In light of the number of complaints, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has issued a warning to potential investors outlining the risks associated with cryptocurrency investment.
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Australia’s Consumer Watchdog Received 1,289 Complaints Relating to Cryptocurrencies Last Year
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has reported that data obtained from the ACCC indicates that Australian citizens’ losses to cryptocurrency scams totaled $1,218,206 AUD ($955,000 USD approximately) for 2017. The number of complaints received last year has prompted Australia’s corporate regulator, ASIC, to issue a warning to potential cryptocurrency investors.
John Price, the ASIC commissioner, recently described cryptocurrencies as “quite speculative products [that] can be quite high-risk. It’s been quite well documented that some of these products are scams, so please don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose some or all of your money.”
Increasing Regulation of Australia’s Cryptocurrency Sector
From April onward, Australian businesses providing cryptocurrency exchange services will be required to register with AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, and report information regarding the transactions of their customers.
Under the new legislation, it will be illegal for an “unregistered person” to provide virtual currency exchange services. “Businesses that trade digital currencies for money, and vice versa, will be required to enroll and register with AUSTRAC,” Justice Minister Michael Keenan said in August 2017 during a parliamentary speech regarding the then regulatory proposals.
Angus Taylor, Australia’s new federal minister for cyber security, recently praised the new legislation, stating “We’ve had a lot of cooperation from the cryptocurrencies because they know they need to be legitimate, they know they need to be part of our financial system, and they know they don’t want to be facilitating illegal and criminal activity.”
“We’ve acted early, we’ve acted much earlier than many other countries around the world,” Mr. Taylor added. “Obviously cryptocurrencies are growing, and it’s appropriate that the Government establish a regulatory framework with a particular focus on criminal activity.”
By Samuel Haig
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