Business

Erik Gibbs

Crypto companies find support in Lithuania

Lithuania is quickly turning into one of the more cryptocurrency-friendly nations in the world. It has been working to introduce new regulations, including on the operation of initial coin offerings (ICOs), and even the country’s central bank has voiced its modest support for digital assets. Now, the country is looking to keep the momentum moving forward and is going to introduce legal amendments that will provide oversight for businesses operating in the Bitcoin industry.

According to The Baltic Times, the country’s finance ministry is going to increase the control of crypto-related businesses, including those that operate virtual exchanges, depository wallets and ICOs. They are expected to adhere to more stringent requirements relating to anti-money laundering and terrorism financing and Sigitas Mitkus, who heads the Finance Ministry’s financial market policy department, explains, “We want to create a transparent legal environment for virtual currency exchanges, depository wallet operators and ICO initiators. We also want to contribute to ensuring better consumer protection.”

Under the new guidelines, companies will have to register with the Center of Registers to become a legal entity. Only as a legal entity will they be able to conduct business and the companies will also be required to adhere to the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and Know Your Customer regulations. In keeping with policies established across the globe, they will also have to report any transactions of considerably high volumes to the Financial Crime Investigation Service.

Based on the new regulations, Mitkus asserts that Lithuania is going to become the first country to implement guidelines established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2018. It could also be the first to implement the requirements for both crypto-to-fiat conversions and internal fiat-to-fiat trading.

He explains, “By introducing limits for financial operations, we are going further beyond the EU directive and we will probably become the first in the world to implement the FATF recommendations and apply the requirements not only to the conversion of virtual currency to traditional ones and vice versa, but also when converting one virtual currency into another.”

The amendments, which still have to be approved, seek to make the European Union Anti-Money Laundering Directive and the FATF regulations part of Lithuanian law, the first country to make such a move.

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