RIYADH: Europe prepares to lead the world in regulating the cryptocurrency industry at a time when prices have plunged, wiping out fortunes, fueling skepticism and sparking calls for tighter scrutiny.
The EU took a first step late Wednesday by agreeing on new rules subjecting cryptocurrency transfers to the same money laundering rules as traditional banking transfers.
A much bigger move was expected as EU negotiators hammer out the final details late Thursday on a separate deal for a sweeping package of crypto regulations for the bloc’s 27 nations, known as Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA.
The EU rules are “really the first comprehensive piece of crypto regulation in the world,” said Patrick Hansen, crypto venture adviser at Presight Capital, a venture capital firm.
“I think there will be a lot of jurisdictions that will look closely into how the EU has dealt with it since the EU is first here,” Hansen said.
He expected authorities in other places, especially smaller countries that don’t have the resources to draw up their own rules from scratch, to adopt ones similar to the EU’s, though “they might change a few details.”
Companies issuing or trading crypto assets such as stablecoins face tough transparency requirements requiring them to provide detailed information on the risks, costs and charges that consumers face.
Providers of bitcoin-related services would fall under the regulations, but not bitcoin itself, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency that has lost more than 70 percent of its value from its November peak.
Russia probes 400 cases
The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation is trying to detect around 400 cases in which cryptocurrencies are involved, the agency’s director, Yury Chikhanchin, revealed the number during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Russian law enforcement authorities have already initiated 20 criminal cases related to digital assets, Bitcoin.com reported.
Chikhanchin acknowledged that Russians continue to actively use cryptocurrency platforms located outside the country.
“This phenomenon continues to exist. And only on two foreign sites, two exchanges, several hundred thousand Russian citizens participate in transactions worth tens of billions,” he said.
According to official data released earlier this year, the number of lawsuits related to cryptocurrency mining in Russia exceeded 1,500 in 2021.
$100 million crypto hack
Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.
Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains. The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers.
The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.