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Regulation

US: More Sanctions For Iran Towards The Use Of The National Digital Currency

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The sanction wave seems to be never-ending for Iran since in our latest crypto news we can see that the United States lawmakers introduced another bill for even more sanctions on all of the financial institutions in Iran but also for the use of the national digital currency.

The bill was introduced on December 17 in the House of Representatives with hopes to combat money laundering and terrorism activities. According to the bill ‘’Blocking Iran Illicit Finance Act’’ wants to sanction the entire Iranian financial sector.

The sanctions mean prohibition of transactions and financing with the Iranian digital currency but also sanctions for foreign individuals that sale, supply or hold the digital currency.

First introduced, the sanctions were meant for the nuclear program in Iran in 2005 and the sanctions affected the financial sector of the country by forbidding financial institutions of Iran to access the US financial system directly.

However, the sanctions were lifted in 2015 when the country agreed to meet the standards of the nuclear program that were set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from JCPOA in May 2018 thus sanctions towards Iran were reintroduced.

Many of the people in Iran now try to find a way to avoid sanctions and the solution most commonly chosen is cryptocurrency. The head of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi believes that cryptocurrencies are a very promising tool to avoid the US sanctions and hopefully replace the SWIFT system.

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Regulation

The Russian Parliament Pushed Back On Its Crypto Regulation Bill Reading

Initially scheduled for March 22, the reading for the Russian crypto bill will have a new unspecified date according to the Russian Duma announcement since the outcome of the voting on the plenary session last week decided. But, is there any other reason for the delay? Let’s find out in the blockchain news below. The draft bill aimed to remove the terms ‘’smart contract’’, ‘’token’’ and ‘’cryptocurrency.’’ Russia has a very cautious position on cryptocurrency and is always in and out of creating a regulatory framework for crypto trading. The president of Russia Vladimir Putin has previously expressed his stance on digital currencies by saying:
‘’In most countries, cryptocurrency is not a means of settlement. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation believes that cryptocurrencies cannot be a means of payment, settlement or store of value. These currencies are not secured by anything.’’
Russia has minimal progress on the crypto regulation question. The central bank of the country has refused to get into cryptocurrencies or even recognize them as a mean of payment after the head of bank Elvira Nabiullina had a pretty contradictory stance on ICO fundraising calling it ‘’efficient.’’ According to the Russian media outlets, the delay of the crypto bill draft reading was initially proposed by the head of the Duma’s Financial Market Committee Anatoly Aksakov. He didn’t explain why he wanted to postpone the reading so it will be remembered that the committee recommended that the bill could be adopted after removing the previously mentioned terms above such as digital currency or cryptocurrency. The initial draft bill aimed to create a better framework for regulating digital assets which were described as cryptocurrencies and tokens but more importantly provided a legal basis for smart contracts and their validity. The draft bill was set to recognize the minimal difference between cryptocurrencies and tokens and to make a plan to recognize the digital assets as property in Russia. The bill is extremely broad and non-specified because it was not discussed about it nor there was a change to provide legalization and improved regulation on crypto assets. Under the bill, all of the rights regarding cryptocurrencies will be transferred to the equity securities context.
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Regulation

Leader Suspect In Billion Dollar Laundering Via Crypto Is Seeking Extradition To Russia

Alexander Vinnik, the lead suspect as one of the operators of BTC-e crypto exchange who is allegedly responsible for money laundering, is now seeking extradition to Russia from Greece. As previously reported in our crypto news website, the health of Vinnik is getting worse as we speak. The Greek publication Kathimerini issued a report saying that Vinnik initially filed an appeal with a court in the city of Piraeus asking to be extradited to his home country or to be released. He has been on a hunger strike for about three months now and people are getting worried about his current health state. Vinnik’s lawyers claim that his life is in danger. The charges he is facing are reportedly not accurate or even worse-unfounded so the lawyers argue that their client is being held for no reason for a much longer time than the law allows. Vinnik was arrested two years ago while he was on a vacation in Greece. The US law enforcement agency issued a report:
‘’FinCEN acted in coordination with law enforcement’s seizure of BTC-e and Vinnik’s arrest.  The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the criminal investigation.’’
Since he was arrested, Vinnik pleaded innocence and said that his biggest mistake was working for the BTC exchange platform. He is also believed to be involved in the Mt.Gox stolen funds scheme. The FinCEN report shows that via the BTC-e platform, more than $120 million were laundered and were connected with the now defunct platform. Vinnik is asking to be extradited to Russia after the Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatyana Nikolayevna Moskalkova asked for help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet with the goal to take him to Russia. Tatyana claimed that Vinnik lost nearly 30% of his weight and that he needs to be with his wife who is suffering from brain cancer. In the U.S Vinnik was indicted on 21 counts and in Russia, he is only accused of smaller fraud charges that can be paid for about 10.000 Euros. The Greek court in 2017 approved Vinnik’s extradition to Russia but later another court decided to give him extradition to the United States. Later, the Greek Supreme Court ruled that Vinnik should be extradited to France so a clear decision has not been delivered yet.
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Regulation

Crypto Law Consultation Period Officially Started By The Swiss Federal Council

Switzerland seems to be a hot topic over the past week for our blockchain news since today we are reporting the official start of the consultation period for the new federal law for blockchain development by the Swiss Federal Council according to a press release published today. With the initiation, the Federal Council aims to improve the regulatory framework and to bring legal certainty for blockchain applications in order for further development of the crypto regulatory framework for the entire crypto industry in Switzerland especially in the world of finance. Per the press release, the consultation will end somewhere in the middle of June this year. Back in December 2018, the Swiss Federal Council went over the report on a legal framework for the blockchain industry and the entire financial sector and it concluded that the existing laws in the country are suitable for the blockchain industry with some minor changes. The main issue that needed resolving is bringing legal clarity for right holders on each blockchain network and also to make sure that every trading platform is following the country’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) act. After the announcement, the Council was quick to release a draft document on the consultation where you can read about all of the proposed adjustments including digital registration of rights in the Obligations code of Switzerland as well as separating the crypto assets if a bankruptcy ever occurs on Debt Collection and Bankruptcy. The council also had an idea to create another category for distributed ledger technology in order to improve the market’s infrastructure and to create a law for the trading facilities that will be able to provide a regulated financial market. The authority also suggested that the Financial Institutions Act should be adapted to the current legal framework in order to set up a license that will allow for crypto trading facility to be opened as securities firms. The Swiss Federal Council stated that all of the AML policies will be added to the amendment of Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance after the current act is revised. At the start of the week, the Federal Assembly of the Swiss Government gave a green light that allows the Federal Court to start with the consultation process on adapting the current legislation for the improved crypto regulation framework.
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Regulation

Mexico: New Crypto Regulations Could Shake The Country’s Exchanges

The latest news on our DC Forecasts crypto news site show that experts in Mexico have recently warned that the central bank and its newly proposed crypto regulations could derail the progress in the country's burgeoning crypto sector. As the reports show, the central bank in Mexico - known as Bexico - is ready to introduce a new series of reforms that will aim at keeping conventional financial operations and crypto-related businesses "at a healthy distance" from each other. However, another report in the Mexican newspaper El Economista shows that Bexico's proposed reforms could end up doing a lot more harm than good for crypto exchanges selling Bitcoin - potentially driving a wedge between them and the traditional financial sector. As one writer named Fernando Gutierrez noted, one of Bexico's proposed reforms would "limit the use of cryptocurrencies to internal use only for banks and regulated fintech companies.”He also said that this measure would likely force the exchanges without minding the new regulations. The same outlet has quoted the managing director at the fintech regulator named the National Banking and Securities Commission named Rocio Robles. As Robles explained, even unregulated trading may become difficult under the new proposals. Peso withdrawals, for examples, could soon become illegal. Robles stated that the proposes measures wouldn't "kill off" the crypto exchanges in Mexico - but also admitted that Bexico's measures would "put a lot of obstacles in their way" and added that “cryptocurrencies can continue to make progress in Mexico, but they will involve a lot more hard work” if Bexico gets its way. Meanwhile, Coin Center, which is a Washington-based crypto-focused center for research and advocacy, stepped in the talks. As they said, these rules would deny Mexicans the benefits of crypto technology while failing to protect them from the risks. The executive director of Coin Center wrote a statement in which he noted:
"If there are no Mexican-based exchanges, Mexicans will inevitably use exchanges based in other jurisdictions. Some of these foreign exchanges may be sensibly regulated by more forward-looking governments, but others may be rogue operations that deliberately evade any regulatory jurisdiction,"
"The average person has no idea how a car works, and yet people are allowed to drive them," the statement said. Bexico's proposals are subject to a 60-day consultation period during which a lot of things may change. Right now, industry officials and public members should outline their opinions on the case.
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