Anti-money laundering regulations on cryptocurrency and blockchain transactions may be having a positive outcome in East Asia.

According to an article released by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei on Mar. 3, the National Police Agency of Japan brought criminal charges in 537 cases against financial institutions involving money laundering or other illegal transactions. These cases come from a total of 440,492 such suspicious transactions reported to the police in 2019.

Data from 300,786 transactions out of the 440,492 were determined to have grounds for investigations. Among all companies that were reported, depository institutions such as banks accounted for 80% of all cases, followed by credit card companies at 5.6%. The number of cryptocurrency operators reported was 5,996 (1.4%), down from 1,100 in 2018. 

Technological advances have made it easier to report cases of money laundering in Japan, but also for people to find new ways to conduct illicit transactions. However, while the number of cases reported in Japan skyrocketed, the percentage resulting in charges continues to decrease.

Japan’s National Police Agency said there were more incident reports on illegal transactions in 2019 than ever before. The previous year, there were 417,465 cases.

What’s responsible for the increase in reports of money laundering

Considering the Japanese criminal justice system’s reputation for a 99% conviction rate following the decision to prosecute, the percentage of cases charged with illicit crypto transactions seems remarkably low. 

As crypto adoption keeps growing and the number of use cases for cryptocurrency expands, illicit transactions on a percentage basis keep diminishing. For 2019, the National Police Agency attributed the increase in reporting of suspicious transactions involving money laundering to additional surveillance of financial institutions.

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