Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Digital Precious Metals Consistently Under Attack

The digital precious metals and digital currencies continue to come under attack from the anti-money laundering profession. In the latest U.S. study by Saskia Rietbroek of AML Services International, LLC, "Emerging money laundering methods: Digital precious metals" (November 2009), the anonymity is cited as the lure for criminal behavior without any deference to legitimate financial privacy or monetary freedom. This is a serious impediment to widespread digital currency adoption and it must be factored in when considering physical and legal jurisdiction for issuers. Rietbroek writes:
"With digital currencies you can move money internationally in a manner that approximates money remittance or wire transfers. Digital currencies are denominated into internationally recognized weights of precious metals, such as gold or silver. You can open an anonymous digital precious metal account online. A digital precious metal account is very much like an online bank account except your funds are held in precious metal and not paper currency. The balance on your statement is denominated by weight in grams of gold and not dollars or euro."
"Anonymity is heavily marketed characteristic of the digital currency industry. Because digital currency accounts are obtained online and are not subject to the customer identification procedures associated with obtaining a traditional bank account, they often can be opened and funded anonymously."
Unaware that digital currencies via international exchangers will one day supplant anonymous but cumbersome paper cash to fuel the digital economy, Rietbroek continues:
"To fund the account, you can use wire transfers, money orders, or by making cash deposits directly to an exchanger's bank account. Many exchangers will convert digital currency balances into anonymous prepaid (stored value) cards that can be used to withdraw funds by various methods, including at ATMs all across the world."

"The anonymity and international features are very attractive to a money launderer. Digital currency accounts also allow individuals to execute multiple currency-to-currency exchanges in a short period of time and therefore they can become an ideal layering mechanism."

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