In a turn of events, Russia’s deputy minister of finance Alexei Moiseev has claimed bitcoin is akin to a ‘high-risk financial pyramid’ while planning regulation that could potentially ban the sale of the cryptocurrency for everyday investors or individuals.
In a televised interview with Russian channel Rossiya 24, Moiseev spoke about the proposed regulation of bitcoin in Russia – a notable revelation made by Moiseev himself in April this year. The Russian state is looking into the regulation and effective legality of bitcoin, the official stated at the time, to keep an eye on bitcoin transactions in the country.
Speaking with the television station this week, Moiseev now stated in roughly translated comments:
There is a point of view that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is a financial pyramid. It is difficult to argue this point of view. Such investments are high-risk. This determines our approach to their regulation.
The planned regulations could see “only qualified investors to buy and sell [bitcoin] on the exchange” according to Moiseev. Qualified investors would exclude private investors, according to Moiseev, who revealed the Ministry of Finance is in discussion with Russia’s central bank and the Moscow Stock Exchange about the very subject of bitcoin regulations.
Moiseev led the effort to ban bitcoin in Russia since 2014, with Russian adopters threatened with fines and even prison terms up to 7-years in an infamous bitcoin ban bill pushed through the Russian Parliament by the Ministry of Finance. The bill went nowhere, however, with a number of other Russian ministries including the Ministry of Justice disagreeing with the bill. The bill fell by the wayside this year, with authorities determining that bitcoin posed no threat.
“Now, people do it at their own peril and risk, they have no judicial protection,” said Moiseev of the lack of consumer protection measures for bitcoin buyers in the country. This, presumably, is reason enough for the Russian Finance Ministry to effectively ban bitcoin selling to private citizens altogether.
Moiseev also claimed that the use of cryptocurrency in illegal operations had increased in Western Europe and Russia. Despite the lack of any objective evidence to back such claims, Moiseev further stated that Russia’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, “will always know who is selling and who is buying bitcoins” once the new regulations are enforced. “Because now, there is precedent where money is laundered through the purchase and sale of bitcoins. This should be ruled out,” Moiseev added.
The official’s comments come at a time when Russian central bank deputy chairwoman Olga Skorobogatova has publicly spoken about regulating digital currencies like bitcoin as a “digital commodity” that will be taxed. More recently, a member of the Russian parliament speculated on the possibility of a parliamentary hearing on the legalization of cryptocurrencies, an event that could soon occur in the near future.
Russia’s central bank is also working on developing its own national digital currency, based on blockchain technology. Last week, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov threw his support for a state-issued cryptocurrency, calling for the creation of the “crypto-ruble.”
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