TOKYO — Japanese police said Thursday they received reports on 669 cases of suspected money laundering linked to cryptocurrencies from virtual currency exchange operators between April and December.
The data came after cryptocurrency bourse operators were obliged to report transactions suspected of involving money laundering following a revision last April of a law to prevent the transfer of criminal proceeds.
Although the National Police Agency has not disclosed what prompted exchange operators to report the cases, questionable transactions repeated frequently in a short span of time are believed to be among the reasons.
Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum and ripple allow quick and easy transactions while keeping users anonymous. But they have been used in illegal drug transactions and in payments for downloading child pornography.
In Japan, 16 cryptocurrency exchange operators are currently registered based on the revised law on payment services.
Ensuring security measures has been a challenge in the industry as Coincheck Inc., which has yet to have its application for government registration approved, failed to safeguard against the theft of around 58 billion yen ($540 million) worth of NEM currency in January.
Meanwhile, the overall number of suspected money-laundering cases, including those reported by financial institutions, stood at 400,043 cases in 2017, down 1,048 cases from a year earlier, the police said.
The most reports came from banks and other financial institutions, totaling 346,595 cases, followed by credit card companies at 15,448 cases and credit unions at 13,259 cases.