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AML

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Two firms – cryptocurrency mining pool Simplecoin and bitcoin gaming platform Chopcoin – are shutting down as a result of the upcoming EU anti-money laundering rules.   AMLD5, the EU’s 5th anti-money laundering directive, will come into effect on January 10, 2020.  Among the changes AMLD5 brings about are an expanded scope for regulation regarding crypto platforms and wallets, centrally determined obligations for performing AML due diligence, stricter identification requirements for pre-paid card purchases, and the end…

Implementation of the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive on 10 January 2020 is now fast approaching. To the Financial Conduct Authority’s long list of responsibilities has been added the role of anti-money laundering (AML) supervisor of UK crypto-asset businesses. With this in mind, the FCA has published a new webpage setting out key information for businesses. This includes the crypto-asset activities likely to fall within scope although these will not be definitely known until HM Treasury publishes…

On August 20, 2019, the Swiss Banking Association (“SBA”) released guidelines for member banks (in German with Italian, French and English versions to follow) about opening company accounts for companies with a nexus to distributed ledger technology (“DLT”).  These guidelines update the SBA’s guidelines from  September 21, 2018. The guidelines outline what banks should require of DLT-nexus companies in the account opening process to address risk management related to issues such as anti-money laundering (“AML”).…

During a speech at Consenus 2019, Sigal Mandelker, the U.S. Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, reiterated the projection that the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) will adopt international standards for cryptocurrency-based services in June 2019.  FATF (also known by its French name, Groupe d’action financière) is an independent inter-governmental body that develops global standards for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. In 2014 and 2015 FATF began expressing concerns that the potential benefits…

On April 8, 2019, Jacob Burrell Campos of Rosarito, Mexico, was sentenced to two years in prison and to forfeit USD 823,357 in illicit profits for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in connection with his sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States.  Burrell, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty, admitting that he operated a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)…

We have previously written about New York’s BitLicense regulations, which prohibit companies from engaging in “virtual currency business activity” in New York, or with New York residents, without a license.  Bittrex, based in the State of Washington, is one of the more established cryptocurrency exchanges.  On April 10, 2019, the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) published a letter denying Bittrex’s BitLicense application. According to the DFS press release, the application was denied primarily…

On March 11, 2019, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it had entered into a Consent Order resolving a CFTC action against 1pool Ltd., located in the Marshall Islands, and its chief executive officer and owner, Patrick Brunner, for illegally offering retail commodity transactions that were margined in bitcoin, failing to register as a futures commission merchant (FCM), and failing to meet its supervisory duties by not having the required anti-money laundering…

On October 24, 2018, the Japanese Financial Services Agency (JFSA) accredited the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA, established in March 2018) as a self-regulatory organization under the Payment Services Act (PSA). On the same day, an initial set of self-regulations and related guidelines came to effect, as prepared by the JVCEA. Going forward, it is anticipated that the JVCEA will cooperate with continued inspection and monitoring by the JFSA and will act to enhance…

On October 10, CipherTrace – a developer of cryptocurrency AML, bitcoin forensics, and blockchain threat solutions – released its Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report – Q3 2018 (the “Report”).  The Report analyzed 45 million bitcoin transactions involving the top 20 global cryptocurrency exchanges to produce some sobering findings regarding the level of criminal activity at crypto exchanges and the effectiveness of AML regulation. Some key findings are summarized below. 97% of bitcoin payments made directly from…

During 2017, the issue that probably got the most attention for companies raising capital through initial coin offerings (ICOs) was whether tokens constitute securities.  However, governmental agencies and regulators, particularly the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (“FINMA”), focused on other legal issues as well. It was reiterated that companies issuing cryptocurrencies or tokens have to consider not only securities registration but also anti-money laundering and licensing compliance. It has also become clear that blockchain-related businesses…