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INTERNATIONAL - Organised crime in the financial sector is costing Australia A$36bn (R375.44bn) a year, the criminal intelligence authority said yesterday. 

Money laundering was the main threat amid the rise of online banking and digital currencies, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission said in a report on organised crime in the country. 

The Australian government earlier this month accused the country’s second-largest bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, of wide­spread breaches of money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules.

The govern­ment is concerned that encryption technology, including cryptocurrencies, allows transactions to evade detection, potentially enab­ling criminal activity and tax evasion. “Bitcoin, for example, which can be traded anonymously and is as good as cash, is traded now on most significant international exchanges,” Justice Minister Michael Keenan said.

Austra­­lia introduced legislation this month to bring Bitcoin providers under the oversight of the government’s financial intelligence unit. The report highlighted a rise in money laundering through sports betting, finding that several international crime syndicates owned online bookmaking enterprises.