The Australian Federal Police (AFP), the country's principal law enforcement agency, has opened a new unit that is specifically focused on tackling cryptocurrency-related criminal activities, according to a report by the Australian Financial Review.
Stefan Jerga, the man who is in charge of the confiscation of criminal assets at the agency, claims that there has been a significant uptick in the number of cryptocurrency-related crimes. Hence, the AFP decided to set up a dedicated team.
In August, Australian authorities confiscated millions of dollars worth of crypto and other assets in Canberra after investigating a major money laundering case. They were assisted by their American counterparts within the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (the "J5").
The AFP's criminal confiscation command, which was established back in 2020, has managed to confiscate $600 million, which is far ahead of schedule. The task force was originally supposed to reach that target by 2025. The AFP has so far confiscated $35 million in boats, aircraft, artwork and crypto.
Jerga says that the new dedicated team will continue to grow in the future.
No payday for criminals
Last month, new legislation gave Victorian police more powers that allowed them to seize digital currencies, cars and homes as part of the automatic forfeiture of assets of criminals.
Cryptocurrency platforms are required to hand over information on the assets of suspects who were found in possession of drugs or other illegal items.
Australia conducted its first-ever Bitcoin auction back in May 2016 after confiscating crime proceeds.