Victoria Police in Australia will soon be given new powers to seize cryptocurrencies and digital assets from criminals, as well as compel platforms to hand over information about suspects.
According to a statement released by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on August 2, new laws were introduced into Parliament on Tuesday under the Serious Crime and Community Safety Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, aimed at cracking down on organized crime in the state.
The new bill is expected to give authorities “greater power” to track and seize digital assets, in response to the growing use of digital cryptocurrencies by organized crime.
The laws would also require crypto exchanges to disclose information to assist in criminal investigations in the same way that banks would.
“They will be able to compel cryptocurrency platforms to hand over information about suspects, as banks currently have to, and seize digital ‘wallets’.
It will also give police greater search powers to obtain electronic data when executing search warrants and make a criminal’s “seized property” more readily available to compensate victims of crime.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Michael Bacina, digital asset specialist at Piper Alderman, said that since the wording of the bill has yet to be made public, one of the challenges he sees is regulating digital assets when they cross state and federal borders. . .
“One challenge of digital asset law is that state jurisdiction often stops at borders, so ensuring a consistent approach across different states and countries is paramount.”
Bacina also noted that police will need “proper training in technology to seize and secure digital wallet private keys,” but also noted that criminals who trade in digital assets “provide a valuable tool for police in the fight against crime, as transactions leave an immutable trail of evidence on a public ledger that is extremely difficult to alter afterwards.”
Victoria Police Minister Anthony Carbines acknowledged that criminals are evolving their strategies, noting “we must be just as quick to empower our police to respond to new ways of offending”.
Related: 74% of public services feel ill-equipped for crypto investigations: Report
Earlier this year, the popular crypto-monitoring tool, Chainalysis calculates that at least $10 billion worth of cryptocurrencies are held by wallet addresses associated with illegal activity as of early 2022.
However, Bacina noted that the analytics firm also reports that illegal use is at the lowest rate in the cryptocurrency asset ecosystem, “so further reductions in illegal use of digital assets can only instill more confidence in the digital asset and the cryptocurrency ecosystem ».