The head of a government watchdog in Thailand has admitted that domestic cases of cryptocurrency crime are few and far between despite calling for increased preparedness to combat it in the future.
Speaking at a joint seminar with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Bangkok on Thursday, Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) executive director Kittipong Kittayarak said Thailand was sorely lacking the personnel and the tools required to combat crimes involving cryptocurrencies.
The watchdog’s chief was speaking at the seminar titled “Advancing the Economy and Combating Crime in the Digital Age: Cryptocurrency and Crime” when he claimed criminals are ‘increasingly’ turning to cryptocurrencies for crimes including money laundering, terrorism funding as well as purchases of illegal drugs and weapons on darknet markets.
However, he added:
In Thailand, there are very few criminal cases related to cryptocurrencies yet the number of cases is expected to rise.
Criminals turning to ‘complex’ technologies make investigations and prosecutions of crimes difficult and complicated, the official added.
Cybercrime is particularly rampant in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region with an estimated 6 billion cybercrime cases annually, according to UNODC deputy regional executive Julien Garsany. Cybercriminal gangs raked in 100 billion baht ($3 billion) in profits from illegal transactions while inflicting losses of 150 billion baht ($4.5 billion) to Thailand’s economy, the Bangkok Post (which ran with a dramatic headline) quoted the UN executive as saying.
While cryptocurrency crime makes for an insignificant proportion of the overall number, a scandal involving a Finnish investor and a Thai national in a $24 million bitcoin scam has been making headlines in Thailand.
Predictive concerns toward a rise in cryptocurrency crime in Thailand comes at a time when the country is quickly emerging among the friendliest jurisdictions for the cryptocurrency, blockchain and initial coin offering (ICO) ecosystem. Thailand has already moved to regulate the cryptocurrency sector and enacted a framework in July to allow approved ICO operators to receive payments in cryptocurrency.
Earlier this month, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) secretary-general Rapee Sucharitaku revealed that the agency had seen as many as 20 companies applying for licenses to operate cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.