Cryptocurrency dominated the world’s headlines this week as MAS, the Singaporean financial regulator and central bank, reiterated the importance of sanctions against pro-Russia fundraising groups to the city-state’s crypto asset exchanges; a United Nations insider warned that cryptocurrency-sponsored terrorist atrocities are on the increase; and the UK ushered in a new bill which seeks to rename and embed crypto trading into the country’s laws.
Find out more on these stories below.
Monetary Authority of Singapore stresses need for crypto exchanges to uphold sanctions against Moscow-supporting fundraisers
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the island country’s central bank and financial oversight body, has prompted its active cryptocurrency exchanges to be mindful of their obligations to comply with sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin and his allies.
MAS cited research which suggested that pro-Putin proxies have raised ‘millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency donations globally to fund the ongoing war on Ukraine.
Although there’s no evidence of involvement from Singapore-based crypto firms in such fund-raising enterprises and activities, MAS warned that it expects the financial measures which it introduced against Moscow and related pro-Putin entities in the wake of the invasion to be honoured.
The MAS also referenced research by blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, which indicated that 54 Russia-affiliated entities had cumulatively received at least $2.2 million in cryptocurrency donations. The report added that the funds have been used to purchase all manner of war paraphernalia, from bullet-proof vests to financing pro-Putin propaganda websites.
The MAS further cautioned that if it finds financial institutions guilty of violating its laws, they face fines of up to $1 million.
Read more on this story at Channel News Asia.
UN official warns of global uptick in crypto-financed terror attacks
An official representing the global intergovernmental agency, the United Nations (UN), has indicated that up to 20% of terrorist activities worldwide are now possibly sponsored by funds raised through cryptocurrencies. Svetlana Martynova, a high-ranking legal officer for the organisation, added that this had increased from an estimated 5% in the brief period of just a few years, effectively quadrupling.
Martynova was speaking at a recent UN Security Council event in Mumbai when she made the dire revelation. She stressed that, although cash was still the primary payment method favoured by terrorists and their enablers, the perceived relative anonymity of blockchain technology and the convoluted, transnational illicit financial flows which it facilitates have had an increasing appeal for terrorist financiers.
Referring to anti-money laundering (AML) policy and practice, Martynova advised against ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules-based approaches, instead recommending that role-players implement targeted, risk-based processes which assess terrorist financing risks fairly and respond to them proportionately and within the law. She further added that the UN endorses and supports the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recommendations on designing, applying, and maintaining AML frameworks.
Read more on this story at Coin Desk.
UK parliament’s new bill set to redefine crypto assets and entrench regulation of stablecoins
The UK’s Crypto and Digital Assets All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), the government’s forum for regulators, politicians and industry role-players concerned with addressing the burgeoning cryptocurrency trading sector, echoed the measures proposed by the 18 October 2022 Financial Services and Markets Bill through its Chairperson and member, Lisa Cameron.
The bill will expand upon and enrich the current regulatory framework for so-called stablecoins, and also recommends that the term ‘crypto assets’ be replaced by the term ‘digital settlement assets’ (DSAs), noting that the latter is more inclusive and better foreshadows the expectation that cryptocurrency could in future become a mainstream payment option in the UK economy.
In an interview about the trends in the crypto industry, Cameron noted that the UK government was “on a learning curve and it’s just very, very important because the U.K. government has a policy vision that the U.K. will become an international hub of cryptocurrency and digital assets.” This echoed the sentiments of Britain’s current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who expressed enthusiasm for the establishment of a non-fungible token (NFT) by The Royal Mint.
Read more on this story at Coin Telegraph.
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