digest

December 20

Weekly Legal digest 20.12.2018

December 20

BDO GMT Legal Ksenia Stafeeva revealed the main events in the field of cryptocurrency regulation for this week.

«Bitcoin is here to stay», — Weiss Ratings.

Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Securities and Exchanges Commission (SFC) is looking to tighten the current cryptocurrency laws as concerns over crypto-crime and money laundering heighten.

One of the innovations — restrictions for crypto investors on the amount of invested capital. If an investment fund has 10% or more of digital assets they will now need to obtain a license. And even then the companies will only be able to sell their products to professional investors.

Also the SFC want to set up a voluntary scheme where exchanges will be able to test their digital assets in what is being deemed a «temporary regulatory sandbox» and will then be able to decide whether they need to seek a license.

Iran

The government will support the development of the blockchain industry.

«Blockchain technology can help improve the national economy and decrease bureaucratic procedures. This is possible with empowering the infrastructure of the blockchain technology with the help of government and private sector», — Alireza Daliri, he head of management development department of the vice presidency for science and technology.

Switzerland

The Swiss government has announced a new legislative approach to blockchain regulation. An official report recognizes the technology as one of the most important recent developments for the financial sector in stimulating the country’s economy.

«The Swiss Federal Council’s main focus is on ensuring the integrity and reputation of Switzerland as a financial center and on better positioning the country to exploit the opportunities offered by digitalization».

The government’s plan is to create the best possible legal framework conditions for fintech, blockchain, and innovative companies.

«This approach to legislation could prove much more effective in a written statement. This shows once again how the traditional Swiss approach of having principle-based laws that give a lot of discretion to citizens and regulatory agencies are much more innovation-friendly than overly detailed European-style laws», — Luzius Meisser, Swiss economist.

Proposed changes:

  • Amending the Collective Investment Schemes Act to include a new type of «limited qualified investment funds» with the intention of placing future innovative products on the market in a more time and cost-effective way.
  • Start recognizing data as an asset by changing company bankruptcy laws.
  • Widen the Anti-Money Laundering Act to include decentralized exchanges and allow law enforcement to dispose of third-party digital assets.
  • Amending the Financial Institutions Act and the Financial Market Infrastructure Law to make them more flexible towards blockchain initiatives.

Japan

The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering placing cryptocurrencies into a new legal category called crypto-assets.

The government hopes if classifying cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin this way, traders will no longer purchase them believing that they are legal tender recognized by the government.

Also FSA is set to introduce new initial ICO regulations to protect investors from fraud.

France

The Nationwide Meeting assembly — the lower house of the national parliament —turned down almost all the regulations.

One amendment left out of the Meeting was a 30 percent flat tax set to be implemented for all cryptocurrency transactions (now crypto property is taxed at over 36 percent).

Vietnam

Ministry of Justice of Vietnam is considering overhauling its current regulation and practices to set a new regulatory standards adapted to cryptocurrencies.

The government seeks to minimize risks and unleash the potential of technology.

Great Britain

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published detailed guidance for crypto holders.

The document follows on previous reports from the UK government:

«HMRC does not consider crypto assets to be currency or money. This reflects the position previously set out by the report from the Cryptoasset Taskforce (CATF)».

«This paper considers the taxation of exchange tokens (like bitcoins) and does not specifically consider utility or security tokens. For utility and security tokens this guidance provides our starting principles but a different tax treatment may need to be adopted».

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