The head of an Indian nonprofit trade organization said cryptocurrency is “illegal,” and urged businesses to obey the law, local news daily the Hindu reportedThursday, Oct. 25.

Debjani Ghosh, the president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), was cited by the Hindu saying that cryptocurrencies are illegal from NASSCOM’s perspective. NASSCOM is a nonprofit trade association of over 2,000 member companies for the Indian IT and business process outsourcing industries.

“It is [the] law of the land and hence, we have to work with it,” Ghosh claimed about cryptocurrency’s ‘illegal’ status. She added, “If we do not agree, we have to go back to the government and speak about why cryptocurrencies aren’t correct.” However, Ghosh noted that the “illegal” status of crypto is the result of the government’s failure to keep up with innovation:

“The genesis of this problem, however, lies in the failure of policy making not keeping pace with rapid technological changes. NASSCOM’s focus would be to say, how do you synergize technological development and policy making. I think that will be our focus.”

Cryptocurrency is currently legal in India, but in July the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banned the country’s banks from servicing businesses involved in exchanging or processing digital assets. At the time, RBI cited risks to financial stability and the security of investors as being the main reasons behind the ban.

Following the crackdown, commentators were quick to note that, while banking activities for crypto business were suspended, it was not a ban on crypto in India outright. The country’s supreme court continues to uphold the ban even after hearing a raft of petitions.

Since July, the ban has had severe repercussions for the industry. Exchanges in particular have faced difficult conditions, with major platform Zebpay halting operations and relocating to crypto-friendly Malta.

Ghosh’s comments come after police clamped down this week on a project from crypto exchange Unocoin, arresting its co-founders after they installed a Bitcoin ATM in a Bangalore shopping mall.

Various media outlets have cited authorities who reportedly explained that the ATM “had not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law.” According to a police official quotedby the Times of India, the central bank considers cryptocurrency “illegal.”

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The Switzerland-based Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) has published new anti-money-laundering (AML) standards for digital assets and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) Oct. 18.

CMTA is a non-profit, independent association established in Geneva earlier this year with the aim of promoting the adoption of DLT, such as blockchain, and digital assets in the financial markets.

Its creation was a joint initiative from online bank Swissquote, market software provider Temenos, and the country’s largest law firm Lenz & Staehelin.

According to CMTA, the newly-published standards are designed to “clarify […] measures to be taken in order to comply with the Swiss regulations against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.” As per CMTA general secretary Fedor Poskriakov, the document is intended to “pav[e] the way for a compliant tokenization of financial assets.”

The document is split into two parts, the first of which outlines compliance standards for digital asset issuers, whether or not they formally designate themselves as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs); the second addresses Swiss banks, securities dealers, and other intermediaries who may wish to enter into business relationships with digital asset issuers or investors, or whose business practices involve “a material exposure” to digital assets and/or DLT.

Notably, the standards are not statutory and do not have formal regulatory status, yet CMTA states they “represent a consensus” among financial sector experts as to how good practice should be established and conducted in the emerging digital assets space.

CMTA outlines that the guidance has been developed on the basis of a range of legislative frameworks, including the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (AMLO), FINMA’s Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance (AMLO-FINMA) and other laws for Swiss banks’ code of conduct and due diligence requirements.

As reported last week, France’s intergovernmental organization, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has recently updated its standards regarding digital currencies to ensure that virtual asset service providers are subject to AML and CFT regulations.

Earlier this week, Swissquote announced it had become “the first bank worldwide” to offer purchase and custodial services of ICO-issued tokens for clients.

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North Dakota Securities Commissioner Karen Tyler has issued cease and desist orders against three firms for allegedly offering unregistered and fraudulent securities in the form of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), according to an announcement published Oct. 11.

The companies at the center of the orders are Crystal Token, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd., and Life Cross Coin a/k/a LifecrosscoinGmbH. Per the statement, Crystal Token (CYL) is an “evolutionary multi-utility” ERC-20 token, that promises earnings up to two percent per day. The token’s website allegedly contains fraudulent claims of “excessive unsubstantiated” rates of return on investment. CYL is not authorized to sell securities in North Dakota.

Advertiza Holdings offers cryptocurrency called “Tizacoin,” or “TIZA,” and claims that holders “can expect to make a profit from the appreciation of the value of TIZA tokens.” That, according to the regulator, indicates that the token’s description as a utility token is incorrect, and is instead a security.

According to the North Dakota Securities Department, Advertiza falsely claims to be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is also not registered to sell securities in North Dakota.

The third firm, Life Cross Coin, operates a website from a Berlin IP address associated with ransomware, malware, and identity fraud, and offers a cryptocurrency called “Life Cross Coin,” or “LICO.” The firm claims that the token will be spent on charity, while investors can allegedly get a “huge return on investment.” LICO is not registered in North Dakota, and its site reportedly contains unsubstantiated claims and blatant misrepresentations. Tyler commented on the orders:

“The continued exploitation of the cryptocurrency ecosystem by financial criminals is a significant threat to Main Street investors. In formulaic fashion, financial criminals are cashing in on the hype and excitement around blockchain, crypto assets, and ICOs – investors should be exceedingly cautious when considering a related investment.”

The order is part of Operation Cryptosweep, a coordinated multi-jurisdiction investigation into potentially fraudulent crypto investment programs, that involves 40 U.S. and Canadian state and provincial securities regulators. Since the initiative’s launch in May, investigators discovered about 30,000 crypto-related domain names and conducted over 200 investigations of ICOs.

In May, the Colorado Securities Commissioner launched probes into two companies — California-based Linda Healthcare Corp. and Washington-based Broad Investments LLC — for promoting unlawful ICOs.

 

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Anastasios A. Antoniou, a member of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, thinks that blockchain has to find its place within a regulatory framework rather than evade it, according to his post published in the Oxford Business Law Blog Wednesday, October 3.

The expert thinks that it is imperative to bridge the divide between code and law in blockchain, calling this “a radical rethink” of current regulation.

Antoniou further compares the current legal situation around blockchain with the principle question of the late 1990’s dedicated to cyberspace regulation. He explains that blockchain has to apply the law to attain its full potential, writing:

“If distributed ledger technology seeks to attain its full potential, it should not attempt to evade or circumvent law but rather find its place within a well-structured, relevant and versatile regulatory framework that will allow it to be exploited to its profound potential.”

The Oxford blog contributor then continues by noting that the adoption of new rules would help gain some certainty in the markets and create new ecosystems. He stresses that any legislation should support blockchain, rather than opposing innovation.

Finally, Antoniou writes that that developers should interact with governments, concluding that “the blockchain developers should inform the law’s response to code by engaging with legislators and regulators.”

As Cointelegraph wrote earlier in October, audit and consulting firm Deloitte named five obstacles that blockchain had to overcome to gain mass adoption — the possibility of time-consuming operations, lack of standardization, high costs and complexity of blockchain applications, and regulatory uncertainty, as well as the absence of collaboration between blockchain-related firms.

Earlier in July, former Wall Street executive Mike Novogratz predicted that mass adoption of crypto and blockchain is “still five to six years away” because of the lack of precedents in the tech industry and the doubts of conventional investors.

 

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In a new letter dated September 28 to Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), US Congressmen Warren Davidson, Ted Budd, Tom Emmer, and Darren Soto asked for clarifications on the regulatory status of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.

According to the lawmakers, the current uncertainty regarding digital tokens “is hindering innovation in the United States,” while hinting that businesses may be moving elsewhere to more crypto-friendly jurisdictions if nothing is done.

The pro-crypto Congressmen went on to write that they “believe the SEC could do more to clarify its position,” and added that they are “concerned about the use of enforcement actions alone to clarify policy […]” The Congressmen were particularly interested in getting a clear regulatory framework for when a token sale should be considered an “investment contract,” thus classifying tokens as either securities or non-securities.

As Cryptonews.com reported last week, Congressman Davidson hosted a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill between lawmakers and representatives for the crypto industry. The forum, dubbed “Legislating Certainty for Cryptocurrencies,” will provide input from the industry to be used in the preparation of a new bill that Davidson plans to put up for a vote in the US House of Representatives this fall.

During the meeting, Davidson was quoted as saying that “I am confident we can move forward and make this a flourishing market in the U.S.,” while adding that “we did it well with the Internet.”

Meanwhile, not only in the U.S. the lack of regulation in the crypto and blockchain space, especially for projects that raised funds through ICOs, is keeping even compliant projects from working.

“If you’re a good citizen complying with accounting, opening bank accounts, doing everything correctly, you can still get hit every single week by institutions, service providers, partners that tell you they’re not working with you anymore just because you’re dealing with cryptocurrencies,” Ada Jonušė, CEO of Lympo, a Lithuania-based sports and health data monetization company, said in September.

Ripple forms lobbying group

In other news from Washington this weekend, a statement from Ripple revealed that the California crypto startup focusing on the banking sector, and other companies associated with it, are forming a lobbying group to influence crypto regulations during a critical time when lawmakers in Washington are trying to figure out how to approach the issue.

The new advocacy group, dubbed Securing America’s Internet of Value Coalition (SAIV), says it will promote “a vision of fair and equitable Internet of Value,” as well as fair tax treatment on crypto-related “capital gains, assets and charitable contributions.”

 

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