A recent report on money laundering has revealed that between April and October 2017, 170 cases of cryptocurrency laundering were reported to police in Japan. This follows the introduction of the new cryptocurrency regulations in April, which require all cryptocurrency exchange operators to report or flag suspected money laundering to the relevant authorities for investigation.
A growing market for cryptocurrency
At the time the cryptocurrency regulations were introduced, new legislation came into force recognising Bitcoin as a legal method of payment in Japan. To date, Japan's financial regulator has licensed 11 cryptocurrency exchange operators and the number is set to continue to grow in future.
Investigating questionable transactions
According to an article published in the Japan Times, licensed cryptocurrency operators reported the 170 cases after spotting 'frequent questionable transactions.' Details were later passed to the relevant authorities for further analysis and investigation.
Organised crime and money laundering in Japan
The report released by Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) looked at other types of money laundering as well as cryptocurrency money laundering, and it revealed that this type of money laundering is still not as widespread a problem as traditional money laundering, which could be due to the small number of licensed operators. The report showed that between 2013-2016, 1,178,112 cases of money laundering were reported to the authorities. Of these cases, 16% were later found to be linked to organised crime syndicates, with 230 cases tied to Japanese gangsters.
Cracking down on money laundering via goldMoney laundering via gold and precious metals is also not uncommon. The report revealed 42 cases were investigated over the three-year period. Under current law, the upper limit is $44,000, but in 2018, Japan's finance ministry is set to raise the limit, cracking down on this type of money laundering.