Austrian Financial Authority Proposes Stricter Regulations on ICOs and Cryptocurrencies
Helmut Ettl and Klaus Kumpfmüller, board directors of the Austrian FMA (Financial Market Authority), have offered proposals to impose tighter regulations on ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and cryptocurrencies, reports local news outlet Die Presse, June 29.
According to the article published by Die Presse, Kumpfmüller has proposed a new “threshold-dependent” requirement for initial coin offerings (ICOs) similar to that of securities. The Austrian FMA executive committee considers two million euros as a“reasonable” threshold. Additionally, Kumpfmüller suggests there should be a “concession obligation” for cryptocurrency distributors and that these concession agreements will be treated as securities by the government.
On the other hand, Ettl compared the proposed regulations to currently existing restrictions according to which purchase and sale of any foreign currency requires a mini-back license under the Austrian law. However, Austrian law doesn’t have any such analogous regulation on trading cryptocurrencies. Last year, the public prosecutor’s office received roughly 30 statements from the FMA, concerning suspected legal violations in connection with cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
According to the report, board members of the FMA expressed discontent with Hartwig Löger, Finance Minister of Austria, who wants to strip the FMA some of its authority. In disputes between OePR (the auditing authority in Austria) and the FMA, the Finance Minister is usually seen calling for more “regulatory responsibility at the ministerial level”, which should then be reasonably executed by the agency.
The FMA executive board says that the matters like money laundering have only been superficially regulated by the Austrian law, so far. It suggests that any further oversight by the ministry on the matter should be seen as a “positive development”. Ettl said that it’s important for the agency to retain independent supervision, since there are no serious issues regarding supervision and accounting, so the transfer of authority would likely be regarded merely as a political decision.
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