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Brazil to adopt tougher penalties for digital currency money launderers

Money launderers in Brazil who turn to digital currencies will face longer prison sentences and higher fines if a proposed bill sails through in parliament. The proposed bill doubles the monetary penalty and prescribes over 16 years in maximum jail time for convicted offenders.

Money laundering through digital currencies has become a concern for many governments, with some like China arresting over 1,000 this year for it, as others like the U.K. made their biggest seizures earlier this year.

In Brazil, the Chamber of Deputies—which is the lower house in the country’s National Congress—is working to stamp out this crime through a proposed amendment to financial laws.

A special committee in the chamber proposed bill 2303/15 recently that among other things, raises the fine for digital currency money laundering to two-thirds of the laundered amount. It also proposes raising the maximum jail time to 16 years and eight months for convicted offenders, and the minimum sentence to four years. These sentences previously stood at 10 years and three years, respectively.

The Chamber of Deputies is seeking to protect the public with its latest bill, Federal Deputy Aureo Ribeiro commented. In Brazil, over 300,000 people have been scammed in digital currency-related pyramid schemes, he alleged.

The largest of these scams was the Bitcoin Banco Group, whose leader was arrested in July over allegations of embezzling $300 million in BTC. Known as the ‘Bitcoin King,’ the suspect claimed that his company had been hacked and lost 7,000 BTC, but offered no tangible proof.

“With the lack of regulation, people have nowhere to turn. The market will advance and adjust in Brazil. There will no longer be profiteers using technology to deceive millions of Brazilians,” Riberio said.

The legislator believes that aside from curbing money laundering, the bill will also foster broader digital currency adoption. It will issue guidelines relating to other areas of the industry such as custody, trading, and fiat payments, all playing a part in increasing investor confidence in the industry, he noted.

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