Australia Weighs Jail Time for Cryptocurrency Exchange Offenders


New details have emerged about Australia’s proposed cryptocurrency exchange law.

As reported yesterday by CoinDesk, Australia is moving ahead with plans to formalize the government’s oversight of the domestic exchange space. Specifically, the government wants to update existing anti-money laundering statutes to account for the tech.

A draft text of the bill has since been posted to the website of the Australian Parliament, offering key details on how the country plans to regulate the industry.

Of particular note are the penalties for operating an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange – offenders could face as many as seven years in prison, depending on the severity of the violation and whether they’ve received prior warnings from regulators.

First-time offenders could be hit with prison sentences as long as two years and as much as $100,000 in fines. Repeat offenders may also receive fines as high as $400,000.

“A person…must not provide a registrable digital currency exchange service to another person if the first person is not a registered digital currency exchange provider,” the bill states.

The measure also outlines the creation of a so-called “Digital Currency Exchange Register”, which would be overseen by the Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the Australia’s foremost financial intelligence agency.

The registration process could take as many as 180 days, according to the bill’s text, depending on the outcome of AUSTRAC’s approval process and if subsequent filings are required by the applicant.

In statements yesterday, the Australian government positioned the measure as one that would close a “gap” in the regulatory structure for cryptocurrency businesses.

“The bill will … close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of AUSTRAC,” officials said.

Prison bars image via Shutterstock

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