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Austrian Officials Include Bitcoin in Report on Increase in Money Laundering

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:55 PM
Justin OConnell
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:55 PM

Austrian officials released a recent report indicating that money laundering had increased over the past year in the central European country. Bitcoin sees a mention within the report.

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BK ) noted bitcoin money laundering cases were cropping up, but did not say how many such instances the had seen – only that cybercriminals use digital currencies like Bitcoin on the dark web.

Third-party accounts were acquired by money laundering purposes via phishing attacks. In one instance, 115,000 euros were transferred to an account hacked by criminals.

The BK supposes 2,150 suspicious cases (banks reported 2,002 cases) took place in Austria in 2016. 2015 saw just 1,793 such instances, signaling a nearly 20 percent increase year over year. Despite suspicious cases increase, money laundering related convictions decreased in numbers from 58 to 36 between 2015 and 2016.

BK presented the annual report on money laundering at the 3rd Austrian Money Laundering Conference between March 21 and 22, where representatives from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BK), experts from the financial, judicial and economic ministries, as well as the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FMA) and the Chamber of Economic Defenders came together to discuss economic issues.

320 industry players from financial services, legal professionals, representatives of law enforcement, and district administration authorities attended the conference, which took place in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce.

The central topic at the conference was how to implement the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive in Austria, a country of 8.7 million. Other topics were touched upon. For instance, the Federal Criminal Police Office reported increased terrorist financing.

“This is the result of some implications for the national anti-money laundering systems in general and the money laundering service in particular. In the course of the implementation of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive, a legal framework for the implementation of future analysis activities could be created by announcing the financial market money laundering legislation.

Since the legal amendment has not entered into force until January 1, 2017, the detailed practical implementation remains to be awaited in the area of effectiveness of the money laundering office,” the press release stated about the implementation of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive.

Austria has initiated recent legislations to tackle money laundering, such as provision Art 165 StGB (Strafgesetzbuch, Austrian Criminal Code) which states any person who hides or conceals the origin of assets that are the proceeds of a felony, an offence against property or certain other criminal offences, commits money laundering. The same goes for any person who knowingly takes possession, stores, invests, administers, transforms, utilizes or transfers to a third person any such assets.

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