Business 30 January 2019

Dennis Wafula

Trinidad and Tobago warn against the use of cryptocurrencies

Trinidad and Tobago nationals have been advised against investing and trading in cryptocurrencies. According to reports, authorities gave the warning because many of the virtual currencies promised high returns but end up being fraudulent schemes.

The warning came from several authorities, including the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT), the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (FIU), and the Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange (TTSE). These authorities explained that many users in the region have their funds after making considerable investments in crypto related projects that ended up being fraudulent schemes.

These authorities stated, “We advise members of the public to be cautious of such schemes and conduct appropriate due diligence as these may be Ponzi schemes in disguise.”

The regulators reminded citizens that cryptocurrencies are not a legal tender in the country or other parts of the world. Despite promises of big returns and other benefits, users should be cautious while dealing with digital currencies.

Trinidad and Tobago regulators are more concerned with protecting its citizens. Having no regulators or supervisors in the cryptocurrency space does not make it easy for these authorities to protect consumers. This, more so, is because some individuals use this opportunity to dupe unsuspecting investors of their money. In addition, some individuals have also used the absence of regulations to conduct criminal activities such as money laundering and funding terrorism.

The regulators further explained, “Unregulated virtual currency companies may lack appropriate internal control and may be more susceptible to fraud and theft than regulated financial institutions.”

Like Trinidad and Tobago, authorities in other jurisdictions have the same concerns. There was crypto related fraud and other criminal activities all through last year, with authorities managing to catch a few individuals. Some investors were able to get back their investment. Others are still hoping that the long arm of the law will soon catch up to individuals that run away with their ill-gotten money.

Some jurisdictions have already created regulatory frameworks that curb criminal activities in their regions. Registration and licensing of crypto business have gone a long way in helping protect crypto users. Last year, an authority in Belgium, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) combined a list of fraudulent crypto business. The authority also warned investors to be cautious when dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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