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Malaysian government to implement concrete laws on digital currencies

According to a recent report, Malaysia will be enacting laws on digital currencies from 15 January 2019.

As per the laws, any person involved in operating unauthorized Initial Coin Offerings [ICOs] or any digital asset exchange will face a 10-year jail term and will have to pay RM 10 million in fine.

This announcement was made by the Malaysian Finance Minister after the Capital Markets and Services [Prescription of Securities] [Digital Currency and Digital Token] Order 2019.

The Finance Minister also said that the framework will be in place by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

The rules for the digital currencies will term the currencies and digital tokens or digital asset as securities and will be controlled by the Securities Commission [SC].

The Minister made it clear that these assets and cryptocurrencies will have to be approved by the SC and will have to comply with the relevant laws and regulations to be termed as securities.

He noted that The Ministry of Finance (MOF) views digital assets, as well as its underlying blockchain technologies, as having the potential to bring about innovation in both old and new industries.

The Minister also added that in particular, the government believes that digital assets have a role to play as an alternative fundraising avenue for entrepreneurs and new businesses and an alternative asset class for investors. He informed reporters that the SC will be putting regulatory requirements for the issuance of ICOs and trading of digital assets at digital asset exchanges in Malaysia.

It was noted that any person offering an ICO or operating a digital asset exchange without SC’s approval may be punished, on conviction, with imprisonment not exceeding 10 years and fine not exceeding RM10 million.

The Finance Minister duly noted that it believes that digital assets not only offer an alternative fundraising method, but also a new asset class for investors.

As per the reports, while the Malaysian government was initially indecisive about legalising cryptocurrencies, it eventually did; and it has now laid down regulations for cryptocurrencies which will be in effect very soon. Another report noted that cryptocurrencies, along with digital tokens and crypto-related assets, will be given an entirely different classification.

The report quoted the Malaysian Finance Minister who said the new rules will effectively classify cryptocurrency and assets connected to digital currency as securities. The framework for the new law will be developed by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

The framework will finalize “the relevant regulatory requirements for the issuance of ICOs and the trading of digital assets at digital asset exchanges in Malaysia,” to another article.

Once made law, the Securities Commission Malaysia will be responsible for the regulation of cryptocurrency and related assets. The road to crypto-regulation in Malaysia has been a long one. In September of 2017, it was reported that the governor of Malaysia’s central bank claimed he would issue guidance on the use and regulation of cryptocurrency in the country by the end of 2017. In November 2017, officials from the central bank of Malaysia claimed the country was in the middle of developing a framework to regulate virtual currency. However, the government of Malaysia remains, thus far, undecided about whether to legalize cryptocurrency use in the country

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