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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 17th to 23rd June, 2019

Asia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Asia and Australia

Japan

Regulators forcing hacked exchange to improve its model: Fisco, the investment firm that took over the assets of the hacked cryptocurrency exchange Zaif is being scrutinized and forced to improve its handling of the previously hacked exchange according to a press release from the Financial Services Agency (FSA).

The FSA report claims that a number of violations and irregularities were found in the acquisition of the hacked cryptocurrency exchange and also found out that the firm also had issues in its model. The blunt report suggests that the ““management did not recognize the importance of legal compliance.”. In a hack back in September 2018, the exchange lost over 62.5 million USD worth of coins from its wallets and was eventually acquired by the Fisco group. The Japanese government has also hardened rules for cryptocurrency exchanges in the country so that hacking attempts and their losses can be minimized in the country.

Agency reports a 170% increase in crypto related inquiries: Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) has claimed that the number of cryptocurrency related inquiries in the country rose by almost 170% last year. The increase is among the highest in countries around the world despite a slump from last year’s increase (450%).

Most of the requests were regarding various facets of the cryptocurrency trading and investment. Other government data shows that the cryptocurrency inquiries faced a decrease in percentage during the second half of 2018 and thus it shows a correlation with the price.

South Korea

New Responsibility imposed on Korean exchanges for user losses: The South Korean authorities have imposed new rules on cryptocurrency exchanges regarding user losses and liabilities according to report from Korean news outlet The Korean Herald.

A Fair Trade Commission has asked repeatedly hacked exchanges including Bithumb to adopt new policies to hold themselves accountable in the case of hacked funds.

Singapore

Moody ‘s throws its weight behind Singapore banks against fintech: Credit rating agency Moody’s has come all out in support of commercial banks in Singapore and is backing them against a struggle with the fintech startups mushrooming the country that seek to challenge their hegemony.

The new report titled Fintech – Singapore: Bank of the Future: Fintech threats are growing fast but large incumbents will hold their ground’ goes in depth around the topic and eventually picks its winner: the banks.

India

Libra may not be launched in India: Facebook’s flagship cryptocurrency project Libra may not be launched in India in the near future due to its issues with the topic according to a report by the Economic Times. Not just India but other countries where cryptocurrencies are officially banned will not see the addition of Libra wallets in 2020 when the project is expected to take off.

Cryptocurrencies are currently banned in India but all of that could change once the ban is lifted by the government.

Australia

Central Bank again argues against the practicality of Bitcoin: The Australian Reserve Bank is once again repeating its rhetoric that cryptocurrencies will never be used as mainstream payment options in the country.

According to a report titled ‘Cryptocurrency: Ten Years On,’ the banking regulator commemorated the tenth year of BTC’s existence while acknowledging zero faith in its future mainstream use. It clearly believes that cryptocurrencies will continue to remain a niche asset only.

Concluding, the report says:

As long as the Australian dollar continues to provide a reliable, low-inflation store of value, and the payments industry continues to work on the efficiency, functionality and resilience of the Australian payments system, it is difficult to envisage cryptocurrencies presenting a compelling proposition that would lead to their widespread use in Australia.”

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 10th to 16 June, 2019

Asia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Asia and Australia

India

Indian Crypto Community Petitions Government for Regulation: In anticipation of the upcoming “Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019” and all the rumours and chaos surrounding it, the crypto community has started a Change.org petition titled “Implementing Regulatory Framework for Cryptoassets in India”. This is a measure to pressure the Indian government into implementing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies as soon as possible.

The issue was also recently debated on a television show, and three Right to Information requests were also filed to back the petition. The petition asks for the definition of terms like blockchain and crypto assets, creating a regulatory sandbox for crypto assets, registering ICOs, defining KYC/AML guidelines, and updating the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Income Tax Act.

China

Leveraged Trading Blamed for Chinese Trader Suicide: A Chinese Bitcoin trader has allegedly committed suicide after suffering a disastrous trading loss due to a highly leveraged trading position. Hui Yi, CEO and co-founder of a crypto market analysis portal BTE.TOP, lost BTC 2,000 (~USD 16.2 million) of his investors’ funds when he opted for a short position at 100x leverage.

Evidently, he miscalculated the risks as his position was immediately liquidated when the market took a swing for the worse. His death was revealed by an ex-partner when his clients started reporting about the possibility of their funds being embezzled by Yi. The considerable loss was only possible due to 100x leverage option, which offers the possibility for traders to make large profits out of small investment capital, but can also liquidate the investment if Bitcoin only moves 1% in the opposite direction the trade.

Australia:

Australian company pushes for world’s first Bitcoin ETF: An Australian accounting firm, BDO, has revealed their plans for the first ever Bitcoin (exchange-traded funds) ETF to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

BDO has previously been providing services to many ASX-backed companies and will now look to expand their portfolio to auditing and assurance services for local digital assets, security tokens, ICOs, and exchanges. BDO’s Leader for Financial services, Tim Aman, expressed that this move will improve transparency and digital asset quality for institutional investors, as their auditing services will serve as a “game changer” for the industry. ETFs offer opportunities to the investors to track their assets and easier ways to hold the cryptocurrency without being concerned about the security procedures.

Philippines

Philippine Central Bank Warns of Growing Crypto Use: The Philippines central bank has expressed grave concerns about the risks of the increasing use of crypto in the country, with Benjamin Diokno, governor of the Bangko Sentral Pilipinas, revealing the formation of a regulatory body to monitor the potential crypto misuse such as in terrorism funding.

Deputy governor Diwa Guinigundo also highlighted the limitations of crypto in comparison to traditional money and how it allows users to circumvent banking regulations. Despite this mistrust and hostile campaign by the government, trades on Localbitcoins in the Philippines have been steadily increasing since January, amounting to USD 4.3 million in the last week alone.

Iran

Iran Wants to Charge Bitcoin Miners “Real Price” for Power: According to media reports, Iran might ask Bitcoin mining operators in the country to start paying the full price of electricity. Iran’s Minister of Energy, Homayoun Haeri, said in a statement that the country is now looking to remove the 1 billion USD electricity subsidy offered to crypto miners due to the current dire situation of the economy.

But, such a move might not be a wise decision, especially considering how the Iranians have found cryptocurrency as the only feasible way to circumvent the US economic sanctions. And despite a government prohibition extending to the mining and trading of crypto, these activities have continued to flourish due to the low electricity rates amounting to a mere USD 0.01 per kilowatt-hour.

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Australian Accounting Firm Pushes Proposal for World’s First Bitcoin ETF

Australian Accounting Firm Pushes Proposal For World’s First Bitcoin ETF

Although many companies trying to launch Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been turned down thanks to the regulatory issues, an Australian accounting firm, BDO, has announced the proposal for what it calls the world’s first Bitcoin ETF listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), as reported by micky.com.

BDO has been providing services to a notable number of ASX-backed companies and will now extend auditing and assurance services to local digital assets, ICOs, security tokens, and exchanges.

BDO Leader for Financial services, Tim Aman, said:

“One of the biggest barriers holding institutional investors back is the lack of transparency about the quality of digital assets. By providing comprehensive audit and assurance services, our entry into this growing sector will be a game changer for new investment into this asset class.”

Formerly, BDO collaborated with Decentralised Capital to provide a clear-cut knowledge on the functioning of the Blockchain technology for auditing. Stephen Moss, founder of Decentralised Capital, emphasized on the importance of independent auditing as a pre-requisite for attaining approval on the proposed Bitcoin ETF.

He said:

“Provided you can work with regulators and the ASX to offer investors security I think Australia is possibly an ideal place to list a Bitcoin ETF.”

The journey of Bitcoin ETF approval

ETFs provide investment expansion opportunities to the investors by tracking the assets allowing simpler alternatives to buying and selling individual assets. With the help of Bitcoin ETFs, investors do not have to be concerned about the security procedures associated with holding the cryptocurrency. Besides, investors can just buy and sell the ETF through traditional exchanges.

It is not a secret that time and again, the applications for Bitcoin-based ETFs have been rejected by the SEC on the basis of the risks of “fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices”.

In a series of rejections, the SEC turned down the petition to launch the Bitcoin ETF called Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust in 2017. A second attempt to the launch was rejected by the US financial watchdog in 2018. The joint proposal filed by VanEck and SolidX for the approval of Bitcoin ETF was stalled by the SEC yet again.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd June to 9th June, 2019

Asia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Asia and Australia

India

Indian Lawmakers Propose an Extreme 10-Year Prison Sentence for Crypto Acquisition: Indian lawmakers have reportedly drafted a bill that imposes a 10-year prison sentence along with massive fines for people who “mine, generate, hold, sell, transfer, dispose of, issue or deal in cryptocurrencies, directly or indirectly” in the country.

The proposal is accompanied by a push for India’s official digital currency, ‘Digital Rupee’. These offences will also be deemed “cognizable and non-bailable”, and after the act is implemented, all holders will be required to declare their assets within 90 days.

India Central Bank Denies Knowledge of Crypto Ban Bill: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has denied any involvement and knowledge of the controversial cryptocurrency ban bill in India.

This was revealed during the hearing of the Rights to Information (RTI) petition filed by an Indian crypto lawyer, Varun Sethi, to RBI, in which he asked about the central bank’s role. In reply, RBI claimed that there was never “any communication received from Central Government in this matter”. RBI also added that it has neither received any copies of the draft bill and not it has held any meetings or discussions on the matter.

Privacy Coins Could Boom in India: In a defiant statement, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao claimed that if India goes ahead with the rumoured crypto ban, it would actually improve the adoption of privacy coins.

Recently there have been rumours about Indian authorities passing a bill to punish people involved in the “sale, purchase and issuance of all types” of digital assets including crypto and Bitcoin. Zhao’s claims can be backed by previous instances of people turning to privacy coins like Monero whenever Bitcoins are banned or heavily regulated. He added that such a ban could “really push privacy coin adoption forward to bypass the ban.”

Japan

2020 Olympics Eyes Blockchain to Combat Doping and Verify Authenticity of Records: The International Testing Agency (ITA) is reportedly looking to implement Blockchain as a tool against tampering of anti-doping test records in the 2020 Summer Tokyo Olympics.

ITA has forged a partnership with Blockchain firm BlockFactory to create a framework and explore possibilities of using Blockchain to prevent doping scandals within reasonable cost. In particular, the focus is on the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE ), which allows athletes to use banned drugs under justified medical conditions. To avoid any misuse, Blockchain would be used to verify and store the medical records after approval by a panel of experts to prevent any future tampering.

Australia

Australia Targets Crypto Tax Fraud in 5 Nation Cyber Sweep: The Australian government, in collaboration with the international J5 tax authorities, is currently investigating tax avoidance schemes that are based on cryptocurrency.

This follows the announcement by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that it is updating its database to ensure a rigorous taxation system in the country. The move will also involve collecting information from the Australian cryptocurrency designated service providers (DSPs) about all crypto transactions. The ATO is currently examining 12 cases, one of them involving a “global financial institution” under allegations of enabling taxpayers to commit possible tax avoidance fraud.

Malaysia

Malaysia Securities Commission Recognizes 3 Crypto Exchanges: The Malaysian Securities Commission (SC) has finally registered three cryptocurrency exchanges namely Luno Malaysia, Sinegy Technologies and Tokenize Technology after passing the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019.

This implies that all crypto exchanges operating in the country must register with the SC, which will then have nine months after the registration to meet all compliance requirement by the markets regulators. The authorities also claim that this move will bring clarity and protection for the consumers and will standardize crypto usage across all businesses.

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Australia Targets Crypto Tax Fraud in 5 Nation Cyber Sweep

australia, cryptocurrency, tax, bitcoin

The Australian government is in the process of investigating a number of tax avoidance schemes involving cryptocurrency with support from other jurisdictions.

This follows an announcement in April by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that it was stepping up its database in order to monitor if the correct taxation is being gathered from cryptocurrency holders across the country. Part of the move will involve collecting information from Australian cryptocurrency designated service providers (DSPs) regarding crypto purchases and sales.

The current investigation is being conducted in tandem with the international J5 tax authorities’ group which includes Britain, Canada, Holland, and the US. The cooperation between the five nations began in 2018 as calls for dealing with cyber-related tax avoidance became a common cause.

The ATO’s Deputy Commissioner Will Day reported that the agency was currently examining 12 cases; one of which was described as a “global financial institution” which enabled taxpayers to be able to hide details which should have been recorded for taxation purposes.

At a global level, there are around 50 investigations on J5 books which involve possible cyber infringements, some including the use of cryptocurrency. Deputy Commissioner Day commented that Australia was cracking down on this kind of evasion:

“At no other time have criminals been at greater risk of being caught… In Australia, they are often intermediaries who are playing a role between the tax evader and an offshore entity.”

In Holland, a cryptocurrency mixer was removed offline by the Dutch tax authorities. Such services provide users anonymity by mixing data that could identify the holder of the currency with other holders, making it hard for authorities to track the user under investigation.

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World Bank and CBA bond-i Creates First Trade Using DLT

World Bank and CBA bond-i Creates First Trade Using DLT

The World Bank and its project partner the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) have now enabled secondary market bond trading on the blockchain with the bond-i solution following its creation last year.

In August 2018, the World Bank mandated the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to authorize the world’s first blockchain bond. The foreign bond issued in Australian dollars has been dubbed bond-i, an acronym for Blockchain Offered New Debt Instrument, as well as a reference to Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

The bonds are issued and tracked using an associated platform which features an automated bond auction, bookbuild, and allocation; electronic bid capture; an auditable and immutable transaction record; and real-time updates and enhanced visibility according to participant permissions.

Now that the bonds have been issued they have become the first globally to have both issuance and trading recorded on the blockchain. In a joint statement, the World Bank and CBA talked of the “vast potential to enhance the coordination of securities trading and management on blockchain” through such secondary transactions. Sophie Gilder, head of experimentation and commercialization, CBA Innovation Labs commented, talking of last year’s launch to subsequent DLT recorded trading :

“Effectively it was a seamless end to end platform which can take you from the issuance of a bond right through to secondary market trading of that bond through a trusted shared ledger.”

Gilder added that feedback from the global technology and financial sector community had been “extraordinary”. World Bank vice president and Treasurer Jingdong Hua was equally positive about the trading launch:

“Enabling secondary trading recorded on the blockchain is a tremendous step forward towards enabling capital markets to leverage distributed ledger technologies for faster, more efficient, and more secure transactions.”

The CBA appears to have embraced blockchain with open arms, completing 20 blockchain pilots across a range of industries in collaboration with clients, fintechs, banks, and government.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 20th May to 26th May, 2019

Asia

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Asia and Australia

Iran

LocalBitcoins imposes restrictions on accounts based in Iran: As a result of the recent US-Iran tensions, LocalBitcoins has banned all its users operating from Iran.

The peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchange saw a recent surge in the user base from the country courtesy their hassle-free account opening procedures, but it announced the ban last Friday citing “risk-based reasons” and a need for compliance with financial regulations in Finland for the decision. The exchange added that it would allow the existing customers to withdraw the bitcoins, but won’t allow any further trading.

India

India supreme court advocate offers crypto regulation ideas: CIO of Economic Times, cyber law expert, and Indian supreme court advocate NS Nappinai has offered advice on implementing cryptocurrency regulation in India.

In an interview, she said that if implemented correctly, a functioning crypto regulatory framework would help in fostering openness about crypto trading in the country. But she also warned against a “one size fits all” approach and suggested that customized regulations for specific digital assets have to be created to regulate the reporting methods while incorporating investor protection provisions.

Australia

Australian IT worker charged for crypto mining at government agency: An Australian government contractor has been arrested after allegedly abusing his position to illegally access and use government agency computer systems, according to the Sydney police.

The charges have been filed under sections 477.2 and 478.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 namely for “Unauthorized modification of data to cause impairment” and “Unauthorized modification of restricted data”. It was revealed in a report that just last year AUD 6.1 million was lost in various cryptocurrency scams in Australia, with around 378,000 scams spread across all sectors costing victims around AUD 489 million.

Japan

Japan regulator to inspect crypto exchanges for AML policies ahead of FATF inspection: The financial services agency (FSA) will reportedly assess Japan’s anti-money laundering policies as part of their campaign against non-compliant cryptocurrency exchanges before the inspection by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this fall.

Given that this year’s G20 meeting will also be chaired by Japan, FSA is desperate for a better review by FATF than the last time in 2008 when the Japanese financial institutes received the lowest possible rating back due to a lack of transparency and an “insufficient legal framework”.

South Korea

South Korean Bitcoin exchanges post highest fiat influx: During the recent crypto boom, South Korea has topped the charts in accumulating bitcoin more than any other country, as revealed by CryptoCompare. The data analytics firm reported that the South Korea exchange BitHumb received USD 16 billion+ fiat money in April 2019, with their rivals, Upbit, coming second with fiat-based capital of only USD 7.5 billion during the same month.

In the same period, US-based exchanges such as Coinbase, Gemini, and Kraken only posted investments of around USD 1-5 billion each, where interestingly the fiat statistics were more or less equal among all these exchanges before the bitcoin price boom. Both BitHumb and Upbit topped the fiat-to-crypto volume in both the months February and March as well.

Samsung Pay could soon be adding cryptocurrency integration: Samsung is contemplating the integration of cryptocurrency into Samsung Pay, which currently accounts for 80% of the total digital payments in South Korea. The decision by Samsung is seen as a move for expanding its user base, with further speculation that Samsung wants to use the blockchain technology to reduce the current transaction fees.

There are also reports of Samsung exploring the possibility of launching its own blockchain network and a token on the Ethereum blockchain, thus taking over a significant share in the FinTech industry.

Laos

Lao PDR central bank gets tough on crypto: Laos has recently warned off their citizens and potential investors from buying crypto, thus following suit of their neighbour country Vietnam. The central bank of Laos’s Transaction System Management Department has recently warned commercial banks, businesses, and the general public against buying, selling, or using cryptocurrency for monetary transactions, deeming it an “illegal activity”.

The authorities claim that this ban was necessary due to a lack of checks and balances present for the regulation of cryptocurrency transactions. This warning holds for any investment activities involving cryptocurrencies, with banks put on high alert to monitor any crypto related transactions.

 

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Weather Project in Queensland uses BSV Blockchain to Support Farmers

Weather Project in Queensland uses BSV Blockchain to Support Farmers

An Australian experimental weather project, WeatherSV, designed to serve Queensland’s farming community, is helping farmers to access important data through the Bitcoin BSV blockchain.

The work is the creation of IT professional Paul Chiari, a strong advocate of using agritect technology to support his local community, in the case farmers. WeatherSV was the result of his experimentation with data distribution and storage on the blockchain.

Chiari has found BSV blockchain as an ideal medium for storing date fed back through IoT devices located on surrounding farms, enabling him to utilize this data along with weather information collected from 40,000 weather stations around the world.

The result is users can now simply add their nearest weather station to access the output of the network and stored data by paying an equivalent of AUD 5 in BSV, using Moneybutton. Numerous channels have now been opened and are growing all the time, recently including membership in Guinea and China.

Chairi was astounded at how quickly his project grew and now sees 50,000 transactions a day as quite possible with 12,000 at present:

“We just did this as a hobby project… we did it for a bit of a laugh… Doing this stuff, and learning as you go and experimenting with it, it’s fantastic… The heavy lifting is being done and you’ve just got to jump on board and have a go.”

However, with Binance and Shapeshift dumping Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (Bitcoin SV) and then Kraken following suit, things don’t look too promising for the controversial crypto moving forward. Since Bitcoin SV forked from Bitcoin Cash in November of last year its been on a downward spiral. Although the network is operating, it is diminutive by comparison to Bitcoin, with 500 nodes compared to Bitcoin’s 9,000 plus. Its centralized hashpower is also of some concern as roughly 60% of BSV’s hash rate is by Craig Wright-supported CoinGeek and nChain.

 

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Blockchain NZ: New Zealand Needs Strategy to Keep Pace with Blockchain

Blockchain NZ: New Zealand Needs Strategy to Keep Pace with Blockchain

Blockchain NZ, a group of various blockchain-oriented business, organizations, and experts, has plans to lobby the New Zealand government to produce a national strategy for developing blockchain technology in the country.

Next week, Blockchain NZ’s executive director Mark Pascall will present their views to the New Zealand parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee hearing.

A report released at the end of last year, titled ‘Distributed Ledgers and Blockchains: Opportunities for Aotearoa New Zealand’, concluded that the nation’s IT sector, which presently rakes in NZD 16 billion a year with a workforce of almost 100,000, could grow to become the “second biggest contributor to gross domestic product by 2025” should blockchain be adopted sooner than later.

The report’s research was partially funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and was produced to promote the technology amongst domestic entrepreneurs and innovators.

Blockchain NZ plans to move such assumptions into space where the government can take a more proactive role in promoting new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency. Pascall commented:

“So, we really want government to take blockchain seriously and produce a strategy. We can help them with that so we strike a balance between trying to plan for an unpredictable future and taking some action so we realize huge potential economic benefits for the country.”

In the region, neighboring Australia has already moved on a national plan for blockchain, when it recently announced its own national blockchain roadmap and a funding boost to support the technology’s development in order to push the country to the forefront of international blockchain use.

 

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Australian IT Worker Charged for Crypto Mining at Government Agency

Australian IT Worker Charged for Crypto Mining at Government Agency

Another case of an opportunist tapping into government computer systems in order to mine cryptocurrency has been revealed; this time in Australia.

An Australian IT worker is facing charges after allegedly abusing his position as a contractor and illegally using government agency computer systems, according to Sydney police.

Although the activity of illegally using government equipment for mining is quite rare there have been other publicized cases over the past year. In 2018, Russian security officers arrested scientists at a top-secret warhead facility in Sarov, 240 miles east of Moscow. Several scientists had tried to use one of Russia’s most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoin.

In another case two school principals in Hunan province, China, got themselves into hot water for mining Ethereum at a Middle School in Chenzhou, running 6 machines around the clock in a school classroom.

The 33-year-old worker has been charged by the Australian federal police under sections 477.2 and 478.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 with “Unauthorised modification of data to cause impairment” and “Unauthorised modification of restricted data”.

With regards to this latest case in Australia acting Commander Chris Goldsmid, Manager Cybercrime Operations, stated that exploitation of this kind was a betrayal of public trust:

“Australian taxpayers put their trust in public officials to perform vital roles for our community with the utmost integrity. Any alleged criminal conduct which betrays this trust for personal gain will be investigated and prosecuted.”

It appears that the AUD 6.1 million (USD 4.2 million) lost to cryptocurrency scams last year was just the tip of the scamming iceberg according to a recent survey by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Scams covering all sectors totaled 378,000 reported in 2018, costing victims a huge AUD 489 million (approx. USD 344 million).

 

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