Australian Tax Office Reveals Ongoing Investigation on Crypto Tax Avoidance

Australia’s tax agency – the Australian Tax Office (ATO) – is currently investigating 12 major international tax avoidance schemes, with a key focus on cryptocurrency-enabled activities. The news was reported by local news outlet on June 6th.

Senior officials from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) have met in Washington, DC, this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5).

The ATO’s cross-border investigations were officially revealed following a meeting of the J5.

Joining Australian leaders was the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), as well  Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

The J5 was formed in July of 2018 to serve as an international taskforce following growing concern over the escalation of tax avoidance, cybercrime and cryptocurrency abuse. The taskforce focuses on tackling cross-national tax crime threats including cybercrime, crypto-currency, and global tax evasion, whilst working on sharing intelligence and data with the other members of the taskforce.

Following today’s announcement, ATO deputy commissioner Will Day has stated that 60 investigations were underway by the J5 members, with Australia directly involved in 12. At least one of those being targeted was a global financial institution and its intermediaries, which are believed to have enabled taxpayers hide assets and income details.

 “We’re seeing the use of cryptocurrencies in ways that we haven’t seen before. At the Australian level, there is definitely legitimate use for investment in cryptocurrencies, but we’re also seeing the use of them to facilitate tax crimes.”

He further added that there was clear evidence of people based in Australia who were facilitating the avoidance of tax or partnering with others in overseas jurisdictions in criminal activity.

“At no other time have criminals been at greater risk of being caught,” Day said. “In Australia, they are often intermediaries who are playing a role between the tax evader and an offshore entity.”

The J5’s cooperation has enabled more organized and intensive data exchange and analysis across borders. Most recently, it has been reported that Dutch tax authorities took out a crypto mixer due to the combined efforts of the J5 members.

As previously reported, the ATO has disclosed that it is seeking to contact crypto traders personally about tax issues as part of a new data collection scheme. Together with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the agency is trying to identify crypto traders using data sourced from domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.

Cases involving money laundering, the smuggling of illicit commodities, personal tax frauds and evasion are also being collaborated on, and there have already been more data exchanged in the past year than the previous 10 years combined between J5 partner agencies.

The taskforce focuses on using platforms that enable each country to share information in an organized manner, without needing to surrender data or control to a central database. As a result of its leadership in this space, the J5 are making it harder for people to dodge taxes by hiding their money abroad.

Binance Enables Fiat On-Ramp in Australia

Popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance has just announced the launch of a new platform in Australia that will provide a new way for its citizens to quickly and efficiently access cryptocurrencies.

The exchange platform is expanding its “Binance Lite” service to allow Australian residents to purchase Bitcoin (BTC) via a network of 1,300-plus supported newsagents across the country. Currently, the service offers the option to purchase only BTC using Australian dollars (AUD), however it will offer more digital currency and fiat options in the near future.

Before using the service, customers are requested to pass account verification, which includes as well the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures. Once they have carried out the verification process, users will be able to place an order online, deposit cash at a newsagent, and receive their BTC “within minutes.” Australian customers of Binance Lite will be charged a five percent fee plus goods and service tax on all operations.

According to Binance CFO Wei Zhou, increased alternatives for users to buy cryptocurrencies means increased liquidity for the markets in general. He further added:

“We are excited to continue to roll out more fiat to crypto gateways around the world to support the growth of our industry. Australia has been at the forefront of blockchain innovation and we hope Binance Lite Australia can play a role to further this cause.”

Wei Zhou has stated that the new platform further expands cryptocurrency adoption “by providing easier ways to buy bitcoin.” Notably, he has alluded that the exchange has plans to offer more fiat-to-cryptocurrency gateways globally in the future. For instance, earlier this month, CEO of Binance Changpeng Zhao hinted at the conception of a new fiat-to-crypto exchange in Argentina in a tweet.

Binance has been lately quickly growing its presence across the world. In January, it launched a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Jersey, a British self-governing dependency, allowing users to trade BTC and ETH against the British pound and the Euro. The exchange platform also launched last June a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Uganda.

This new on-ramp is not Binance’s only new addition, and the exchange has made a sustained push to add new perks and options. Recently, due to a partnership with Simplex – an Israel-based payment processor- Binance opened the gateway for its millions of users to use their credit cards to buy several cryptocurrencies effortlessly online.

Real Estate Developer To Hold Security Token Offering To Fund Australian Island Resort Development

The most recent development in the cryptocurrency world is the new venture on the luxurious island off the coast of Australia that needs funding and the Great Keppel Island plans to hold a security token sale giving investors the possibility of owning a stake in the island.

The entire project is spearheaded by a cryptocurrency organization that seeks to amass $300 million in investment for the redevelopment of the island. The team wants to hold a security token offering (STO), which is different from an ICO in that the tokens represent a security and these usually are overseen by Central Financial Authorities. It is presumed the team has the backing of the Australian government in this endeavor.

Since the island is known for its majestic natural white beaches and beautiful coral reefs, the goal is to create a futuristic luxury complex on the island together with 750 villas and 300 extravagant apartments, including a golf path designed by Greg Norman and a 5-star luxury hotel on the beach. Thus the organization intents to hold a token sale offering investors the chance to own a stake in the island by funding the project.

Details about the first round of funding haven’t been given out, however according to the Sydney Morning Herald it is speculated the funding to be within a six-figure range, as it usually is with most security token offerings. Great Keppel Island tokens will also be available for purchasing by investors at later rounds of funding. The buyers will be able as well to trade off the GKI tokens on the existing crypto exchange platforms. Moreover, the organization declares that once the redevelopment is finalized, the island will be worth billions. Therefore, the price of GKI is projected to increase, assuring the investors of their contribution.

Having spent years trying to get ahold of authorization and investors for the redevelopment of the island, this venture has been a dream project for Tower Holdings, a company that owns 70% of the island. With the help of the cryptocurrency agency, this could be finally realized.

According to the terms of the venture, the owner of the previously operating resort will also hold 12% of the total sum of tokens.

However, the Great Keppel Island sale is not the only instance of real estate developers that seek investment through the use of digital tokens. Another example would be Aspen Digital offering stocks in St. Regis Aspen represented through Aspen coins.

Additionally, a promotional video of the sale token presents the project as a unique opportunity to investors considering the scale of the entire project. It is also speculated that more details about the project will soon be made public.


A New Collaboration Will Allow Australians to Pay Bills with Bitcoin

Cointree and Gobbill, two Australian companies, have most recently joined forces for a new venture that will eventually change the Australian cryptocurrency scene. As many companies are skeptic about using cryptocurrencies on everyday services and goods due to their volatile nature, the new business venture promises that paying your daily bills using cryptocurrencies will most likely become far more uncomplicated.

Most companies are not easily thrilled about using cryptocurrencies, as Bitcoin can be rather volatile and most businesses would not take the risk of replacing their current methods of processing transactions. Hence, Cointree, a cryptocurrency exchange platform and Gobbill, an Australian billing platform come together to offer a solution and namely making cryptocurrency payments as a new method of payment possible.

The intention is that all transactions will be taken care of by Cointree and Gobbill, no matter whether the bill issuer allows or welcomes cryptocurrency payments. Gobbill is responsible for taking funds from their customers and paying the bills on their behalf, thus eliminating any sort of trouble that a customer may come across during the transaction process.

Gobbill still supports card and banking transactions, therefore the brand new payment method will not replace any of the currently available options. The billing platform thinks adding cryptocurrency as a possible payment method is a necessary and obvious step as Bitcoin is slowly gaining traction in the industry. Respectively, the partnership with Cointree is a logical and beneficial development. The latter exchange platform hopes this will make it even easier for users to buy and sell Bitcoin. Throughout the years, the company has facilitated more than 100 million successful transactions.

Cointree has already a system implemented for paying bills, which is currently still being developed. The partnership with Gobbill guarantees the maturing and evolving of the system, whilst also making it easier for all users to access it.

Consequently, competition flares up between this partnership and another domestic cryptocurrency exchange platform, Living Room of Satoshi, which has been the only provider of such services for a long time. Competition is always a great way of expanding the business and encouraging progress in the industry.

The public’s reaction to this change is rather difficult to predict, nonetheless considering the evolving cryptoworld, paying with cryptocurrency provides a lot of Australians with another viable method of payment. A lot of people often spend Bitcoin when the price is high as they can buy goods with their profits. Presently, the Bitcoin trades at $6,435.