Two Australian cryptocurrency exchanges have been suspended by AUSTRAC after a ‘key member’ involved in the businesses was arrested during Australian Federal Police raids across Melbourne yesterday.
The arrested man is a 27-year-old from the Melbourne suburb of Bulleen.
Micky has learned that the suspect has been charged with importing, trafficking and possessing a total of approximately 30 kilograms of drugs, including MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ketamine.
Police will allege the 27-year-old played a key role in directing the operations of a criminal syndicate, which used various dark net sites, Bitcoin accounts and legitimate business for the sourcing, payment and distribution of illicit drugs.
Following the arrest, financial regulator AUSTRAC suspended the registrations of two cryptocurrency exchange businesses the 27-year-old is associated with.
Several bank accounts, real estate properties, motor vehicles, a motorbike, cash and cryptocurrency, worth more than AU$2m have also been restrained by the AFP, following a court order.
AUSTRAC National Manager of Regulatory Operations, Dr. Nathan Newman, says the two cryptocurrency exchanges the arrested man was involved in won’t be able to operate until further notice.
“AUSTRAC’s role is to deter and disrupt criminal exploitation of Australia’s financial system and we take swift action where we there is a reasonable risk of compromise. Our decision to suspend the registration of the two businesses means they can no longer lawfully operate,” Dr. Newman said.
It’s unclear at this stage how clients of the exchanges will be affected.
The arrest is linked to a police operation conducted in October 2017, in which two other men were arrested in relation to the alleged importation of drugs via international mail into Melbourne.