Victoria Police authorized to seize crypto assets from criminals

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The new bill would also force cryptocurrency exchanges to provide information that could assist police in criminal investigations.

Victoria Police in Australia will soon be given new powers to seize cryptocurrencies and digital assets from criminals, as well as make it mandatory for platforms to provide information on suspects.

According to a statement by Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews on August 2, new laws were introduced into parliament on Tuesday under the Major Crime and Community Safety Act Amendment Bill 2022, with the aim of cracking down on organized crime in the state.

The new bill is expected to give authorities “greater power” to identify and seize digital assets, in response to the use of digital currencies by organized crime.

The laws that will be upheld will also require crypto exchanges to disclose information to aid criminal investigations in the same way that banks will.

“They will be able to force crypto platforms to provide information on suspects as banks currently do and seize digital ‘wallets’.”

It will also give police greater search power to collect electronic data when executing search warrants and make it easier for criminals to “recover stolen property” to compensate victims of their  criminal.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Michael Bacina, digital assets expert at Piper Alderman, said that because the wording of the Bill has not been made public, one of the challenges he sees is around legislating for digital assets as it crosses state and federal borders.

One challenge of legislating digital assets is that state jurisdiction often stops at borders, so ensuring the consistency in the approach across different states and countries is paramount.

Bacina also noted that police will need “appropriate training in the technology of seizing and securing private keys of digital wallets,” but also noted that criminals transacting with digital assets “provide a valuable tool for police in fighting crime, as transactions leave evidence-invariant traces on public ledgers, which are especially difficult to change after the fact.

Victoria Police Minister Anthony Carbines acknowledged that criminals were evolving their strategies, noting that “we need to quickly empower our police to respond to new ways of breaching. ”

Earlier this year, popular cryptocurrency monitoring tool Chainalysis estimated that at least $10 billion in crypto is held by wallet addresses involved in illicit activity since the beginning of 2022.

However, Bacina noted that the analytics firm also reports that illicit use is at the lowest rate in the crypto-asset ecosystem, “thus minimizing the illegal use of assets.” Digital assets can only create greater trust in the digital asset and crypto ecosystem.

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