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Indian government looks to ban cryptocurrencies; starts consultations on bill

The Indian government is looking to ban cryptocurrencies in its entirety and a committee under it has already begun the consultations on a bill called "Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019". Indian lawmakers have taken a hostile approach towards cryptocurrencies and have suggested: "an urgent need of a ban" on the digital currency.

Earlier in the year, the Supreme Court had given a deadline of four weeks to the government to come up with regulations for cryptocurrencies. At the moment, the draft bill is being circulated to the appropriate government officials.

The bill was drafted by a committee under the government and consisted of various ministries under the Finance Secretary, Subhash Chandra Garg. The committee included the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) and the Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA), among others.

The government could ban cryptocurrencies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Earlier there were reports that the government is looking to bring in regulation policies regarding digital currencies and were in the process of setting up a committee.

"The ministry of corporate affairs has in its feedback to the department of economic affairs pointed out the sale purchase and issuance of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium & Cashcoin, etc. are being done by individuals and companies on false inducements of massive returns. Such schemes are neither transparent nor do they fall within any regulated legal framework. Many of them are run as Ponzi schemes, it said adding that these schemes were being used to defraud gullible investors".

Earlier, RBI had said that entities regulated by it cannot provide services to any individual or businesses dealing with or settling virtual currencies.

"We have decided to ring-fence the RBI regulated entities from the risk of dealing with entities associated with virtual currencies. They are required to stop having a business relationship with the entities dealing with virtual currencies forthwith and unwind the existing relationship within a period of three months," BP Kanungo, Deputy Governor, RBI had said.

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