Australian Home Affairs Minister Says Terrorists Use Crypto to Obfuscate Crimes

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The Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton warned that terrorists are exploiting cryptocurrencies to “fund their deadly missions.”

During a counter-terror conference in Melbourne on Nov. 7, Dutton said that the anonymity of cryptocurrencies allow extremists to avoid scrutiny. He stated that the increased use of digital currencies, stored-value cards, online payment systems and crowd-funding platforms may provide new channels through which terrorism can be financed, adding:

“The anonymity afforded by such technologies enables terrorist financiers to obfuscate their activities.”

Dutton, who leads the Department of Home Affairs, which is responsible for immigration, border control, domestic security and law enforcement, further said that nations across the globe need to stay ahead of modern financing measures and embrace expertise from outside governments.

The Minister also turned his scrutiny toward charities and not-for-profits, claiming they had become popular terror financing conduits and that often these organizations are not even aware that they are being manipulated for such use.

Dutton has recently been the target of criticism in his home country, after claiming that climate activists should pay for the cost of police response to protests, and opposing a bill that would streamline medevac laws. 

Crypto the next frontier in war on terrorism

In September, during the 19th Annual International Conference on Counter-Terrorism, United States Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker stated that cryptocurrencies could become “the next frontier” in the war on terrorism. She said:

“Terrorist organizations and their supporters and sympathizers are constantly looking for new ways to raise and transfer funds without detection or tracking by law enforcement.  While most terrorist groups still primarily rely on the traditional financial system and cash to transfer funds, without the appropriate strong safeguards cryptocurrencies could become the next frontier.”

Earlier in June, the governor of the Philippines’ central bank, Benjamin Diokno, made similar warnings against the potential use of cryptocurrencies for terrorism financing and underscored that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will continue to closely monitor their use in the country. 

Since the beginning of 2017, BSP has required domestic crypto exchanges to register as remittance and transfer companies and implement specific safeguards — covering anti-money laundering, risk management and consumer protection.

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