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French and Italian Regulators Go After Unlicensed Crypto Services 


Cryptocurrency scams have continued to grow, and their influence is reaching even the farthest parts of the world. However, regulators worldwide are also improving their ability to track and apprehend these criminal enterprises’ operators.

AMF Cleans Its Crypto Investment Space

Earlier this week, Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), France’s top financial regulator, sent out a list of investment companies operating within its borders without the proper authorization. While the companies provide investments in different asset classes, some are also linked with cryptocurrencies.

Most notable among the crypto-linked scam sites is BitcoinFrance. Per the report, the company promises users free access to its proprietary Bitcoin trading software once they deposit $250. The company allegedly has an app that trades crypto markets and purportedly generates $1,000 in earnings daily. It also adds that its investments are risk-free, and customers’ funds are guaranteed. As the AMF said, the list could change at any time as most of these fraudulent companies tend to switch their operations and identities.

So far, the AMF has been doing its bit to ensure effective oversight of its digital asset space. The agency has worked to close loopholes that could provide an avenue for criminals to thrive, and like many other regulators, it has introduced licensing requirements for most industry players.

In July, the agency partnered with another local regulator, les Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), to remind crypto ATM operators of their licensing requirements under the country’s Monetary and Financial Code.

In a press release, the AMF explained that it had noticed a surge in crypto ATM installations and deployments across the country. However, any company that seeks to operate these devices will have to register before proceeding.

“Registration entails, in particular, the setting up of an organization, procedures and internal control system capable of ensuring compliance with the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing (AML-FT) and enabling the freezing of assets,” the release added.

CONSOB’s Blacklisting Spree

Elsewhere, in Italy, the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB), the country’s top securities regulator, has been on a rampant website blocking campaign recently.

The latest action took place on September 18, and it confirmed that the agency had blocked 284 websites since July 2019. These sites claim to specialize in offering forex and cryptocurrency trades, but none had gotten authorizations from the agency.

CONSOB added that most of these companies had shown significant signs of being fraudulent. The moves are coming as the European Union gears up to adopt a new set of cryptocurrency rules. According to a report from Reuters last week, the regional authority has published two documents outlining its mission to adopt digital finance as a means of enhancing its cross-border payments service.

“By 2024, the EU should put in place a comprehensive framework enabling the uptake of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and crypto-assets in the financial sector. It should also address the risks associated with these technologies,” one of the documents read.

As Reuters added, the E.U. is considering enforcing Anti-Money Laundering and identity verification to cryptocurrency transactions. Once done, it will be ready to adopt these assets into its financial regime.



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