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Date: 2021-04-23 15:00:00
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BUYERS and sellers of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are no longer able to trade virtual assets anonymously in Ireland under an expanded anti-money laundering regime.
As of today, cryptocurrency service providers in Ireland will have to comply with money laundering rules and other basic regulations for the first time.
This means that they must register with the Central Bank and carry out due diligence on their customers, which entails accounting for the origin and destination of client assets.
The Central Bank has warned all companies that exchange or transfer virtual assets like Bitcoin, as well as those that provide financial services to cryptocurrency issuers, will now be treated the same as other financial services providers.
The change will impose new costs on virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and remove a layer of anonymity from crypto transactions that previously might have been done without the standard checks and balances of standard financial services.
The rules apply to any firm that exchanges virtual assets for either fiat currency or other virtual assets, as well as those that provide custodian wallets or other support services for cryptocurrency purposes.
Vasps now have to register with the Central Bank for anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) purposes as the European Unions Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive has now been transposed into Irish law.
The registry will be published on the Central Bank website.
Crypto firms now have to satisfy the regulator that they have sound AML and CFT policies and that their management meet the standards for fitness and probity in the financial industry.
The change in supervisory rules also gives the Central Bank the power to block senior appointments at crypto firms or to take enforcement action for failure to live up to AML or CFT laws.
Cryptocurrency platforms have been accused of being vulnerable to criminal use and terrorist financing activities for years. Bringing them into the wider financial regulatory framework is seen by legal and compliance sources as a necessary step in the development of a legitimate crypto-currency infrastructure for more widespread use and acceptance.
Ireland has been slow to adopt EU money laundering rules, however the Government moved quickly to bring the latest directive into law.