The Australian state of Victoria has this week introduced new laws allowing the seizure of assets including crypto if criminals are caught with guns or drugs.
Police Invested with ‘More Power’
The Justice Legislation Amendment (Police and Other Matters) Bill 2022, tabled in Victoria’s Parliament, will tighten the state’s confiscation laws and give authorities more power to investigate and impound proceeds of crime.
Under the legislation, a conviction for possessing a trafficable quantity of firearms, as well as drug and sexual offences, will trigger the automatic forfeiture of assets, including cryptocurrencies.
A year ago, Victoria Police took possession of what they claimed at the time was the largest quantity of crypto (A$8.5 million worth) ever seized in connection with an Australian crime.
According to Victoria’s Attorney-General, Jaclyn Symes, the proposed new legislation will “better reflect the realities of modern policing”.
These reforms will provide law enforcement with greater opportunities to confiscate proceeds of crime, ensuring there’s no payday for criminals.Jaclyn Symes, Attorney-General, Victoria
Crypto Exchanges Forced to Provide Customer Information
Cryptocurrency exchanges will be compelled to hand over information about suspects much in the same way as banks are able to seize digital wallets. Powers to obtain electronic data from computers and storage devices, and authorising specialised tradespeople such as locksmiths to search a criminal’s property, will also be facilitated.
Intelligence officers would also no longer need the approval of the Chief Commissioner of Police to investigate online predators, making it easier for police to assume fake identities to infiltrate online child grooming profiles.
Court oversight of search warrants would be streamlined under the reforms, though Victoria Police has issued assurances that “safeguards would remain in place”.
These would include court directions that seized items – including cryptocurrencies – be returned to owners. Victims of crime will also be eligible for more compensation from the proceeds of forfeited property. Whether that also includes crypto was not specified.
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