A money laundering watchdog in Thailand is looking for ways to legally confiscate cryptocurrency from criminals.
Quite a few countries are either ignoring or are openly hostile to the cryptocurrency revolution taking place. Thailand, however, is different as the Southeast Asian country is embracing blockchain and virtual currency. Regulations are designed to foster this new industry, and the country’s central bank is even issuing its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Another aspect of the cryptocurrency ecosystem the Thai government is working on is crime.
Problems Confiscating Criminals’ Cryptocurrency
Thailand is pretty serious about cracking down on cryptocurrency-related crime. At a recent seminar, government agencies pointed out that such crimes are still relatively low in the country, but they do expect such crimes to skyrocket in the future. The Thai government is especially concerned with money laundering and terrorism when it comes to crypto.
However, the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) pointed out that there is a major hurdle to overcome in fighting such crypto-related crimes. There is currently no legislation that allows the agency to actually confiscate the cryptocurrency associated with criminals. In fact, the agency doesn’t even have a place to store it.
Witthaya Neetitham, secretary of AMLO, expressed his thoughts on this issue, saying:
We have discussed launching our own ‘AMLO Wallet’ to hold or confiscate digital currency from illegal sources.
This issue came up earlier this year when the Technology Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police worked with Dutch law enforcement to shut down a child porn website and arrest its operator. They found the operator’s wallet that contained the bitcoins he had earned from his illegal site, but the police were unable to seize them and had to leave them there due to a lack of legislation allowing its confiscation.
Thailand Looking to Catch Up
The Thai government is trying to come to grips on how best to combat crypto-related crimes. Witthaya says that there are measures in place that deal with cryptocurrencies that are licensed by the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission. When it comes to dealing with those that operate outside the system, that’s when things get much more difficult. Witthaya notes:
We cannot identify the cryptocurrency operator or receivers when duped victims transfer money to the criminals.
Then there’s the problem of gathering and presenting evidence in court. The difficulty in tracking down who is behind transactions on the blockchain is a major problem. The deputy director general of the Department of Special Litigation for the Office of the Attorney General, Chartpong Chirabandhu, says:
A big problem with digital assets and other such evidence is the difficulty in discovering the identity of those transacting. When we present the evidence to court, it often fails to convince the judges.
Right now, most crypto-related crime in Thailand is due to investment scams. The most notable one recently is where a Finnish man was duped out of over 5,500 bitcoins. However, it appears that two of the alleged scammers and the victim have come to a settlement.
Still, law enforcement and government agencies are seeking more legislation to give them better tools to fight crypto-related crime. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly the government reacts, especially in light of how the country is promoting itself as a friendly oasis for crypto and blockchain startups.
What do you think the Thai government should do to combat cryptocurrency-related crime? Let us know in the comments below.
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