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The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced a ban on the sale of crypto-derivatives and exchange traded notes (ETNs) that reference certain types of crypto-assets (crypto-ETNs) to retail consumers. Firms who carry out marketing, distribution or selling activities in or from the UK of the relevant products to retail clients, will need to comply with these rules by 6 January 2021. The FCA’s policy statement and final rules can be found here. Which assets…

In the UK, the recent case of Toma v Murray [2020] EWHC 2295 (Ch), adds to the evolving case law in respect of cryptocurrencies. At the end of last year, the Commercial Court in AA v Persons Unknown [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm) granted an interim proprietary injunction over Bitcoin, thereby confirming Bitcoin’s status as property (see our post here). However, in this recent case, Judge Robin Vos refused the claimant’s application to continue an injunction over…

Bank of England Governor Speaks About the Future Shape of Stablecoin Regulation On 3 September 2020, Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, delivered a speech to the Brookings Institution regarding innovation in payments, setting out his view that innovations need to be underpinned by an appropriate regulatory framework to be suitable for use on a wider scale. In his view, stablecoins have the potential to be suitable for widespread use, but must…

On 27 July 2020, the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG), which comprises UK financial services industry trade bodies, published new sectoral guidance for cryptoasset exchange providers and custodian wallet providers regarding compliance with money laundering obligations. The Guidance provides an outline of the money laundering risks posed by cryptoassets and how cryptoasset firms can mitigate such risks. Money-Laundering Risks of Cryptoassets A 2020 study by the UK’s National Crime Agency reported that UK based…

On July 20, 2020, the UK’s HM Treasury (HMT) published a consultation paper proposing to bring the promotion of certain types of cryptoasset within the scope of the UK’s financial promotions restriction. We’ve summarised key considerations below; for further reading, our Financial Institutions Hub post takes a deeper look at the consultation. Proposed Changes The financial promotions restriction, set out in section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, provides that a person must not,…

On 30 June 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) published a research report into the market size, consumer profile and attitude towards cryptoassets. This research shows that an estimated 2.6 million UK consumers have purchased cryptoassets at some point; a 1.1 million increase over 2019’s figure. The Research Since 2018, the FCA has worked with the Bank of England and the UK Government as part of a Domestic Taskforce on Cryptoassets. In its joint…

Summary On December 13 2019, in the case of AA v Persons Unknown [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm), the UK Commercial Court granted an interim proprietary injunction over Bitcoin, thereby confirming its status as property. Background In October 2019, cyber-attackers hacked into the computer system of a Canadian insurance company and installed malware which encrypted those systems, preventing anyone but the hackers from accessing them. The hackers then offered decryption software to the insurance company in…

A UK Government-backed, industry-led initiative has published an expert legal statement recognising cryptoassets as property and smart contracts as enforceable agreements under English law. The statement is published by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), a taskforce of the UK’s Lawtech Delivery Panel. The report concludes that: Cryptoassets are, in principle, to be treated as property under English law. They are not disqualified from being property by their distinctive features (intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a…

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…

The UK tax authority, HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”), published, on November 1, 2019 guidance for companies and businesses on how tax transactions involving cryptoasset exchange tokens (such as Bitcoin) will be taxed. This covers liability to corporation tax, capital gains tax, employment taxes, VAT and stamp duties. Much will depend on whether or not the activity involving exchange tokens amounts to trading or not. Following are the key points for businesses. Cryptoassets are not…