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Pakistan seeks to block foreign cryptocurrency portals

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Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, director-general of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). FIA

Pakistan seeks to block foreign cryptocurrency portals

The chief of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on January 15 said the FIA would approach the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block websites dealing in cryptocurrencies to prevent fraud and possible money laundering.

FIA director-general Dr Sanaullah Abbasi was talking to the media after holding a meeting with a team of senior officials of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the Cyber Crime Circle Office.

“The SBP officials gave a presentation in the meeting about a regulating mechanism,” said the FIA chief.

The SBP team informed the participants of the meeting that the central bank had submitted recommendations recently under the directions of the Sindh High Court for regulating cryptocurrencies.

Abbasi said legal experts would also be approached to deal with fraud and other issues arising out of cryptocurrencies. “Crypto has given a new dimension to the fraud,” he remarked.

Pointing out that the US, UK and Canada have declared cryptocurrency legal but it is banned in China and other countries, the FIA director-general observed that we were mainly concerned about fraud and possible money laundering aspects.

Earlier, it was pointed out in the meeting that there was no section of law available in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, Foreign Exchange Remittance Act 1947 (FERA) and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 (AMLA) regarding the illegal or other misuse of cryptocurrency.

“In some cases, the Cyber Crime Wing took cognisance under section-23 of FERA and AMLA.”

“There is no regulatory framework for virtual asset service providers [VASP] in order to comply with the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] requirements,” the meeting was informed.

It was further informed that the SBP and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan have adopted a “prohibited approach” and issued various instructions on virtual currencies.

“The SBP had issued an advisory to general public and banks to refrain from dealing with virtual currencies, initial coins offering, et cetera.”

“The FIA has taken action over complaints of the people that they have been cheated,” said Abbasi. He revealed that data was being collected about possible suspects involved in this scam with the citizens.

The FIA has recently initiated a probe into the mega financial scam after 11 apps linked to popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance had stopped working, defrauding Pakistani investors of over $100 million.

Also, it had arrested “Dr Zafar” from Faisalabad five months back on the charges of defrauding people through cryptocurrency.

DAWN (PAKISTAN)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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