Singapore Central Bank Publishes Updated ICO Guidelines

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has updated its guide for businesses that want to raise capital via initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The modified draft follows up to the announcement of introducing a “New Payments Framework” made in the original draft. It elaborates the Singapore central bank’s stance on how certain intermediaries should observe its instructions based on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) policies.

These intermediaries include almost every participant that is involved in the activities related to an ICO asset. From those that produce the tokens to those that facilitate their trading on their online platforms to those that provide financial consultation regarding these tokens — everybody is subjected to the law. For instance, an ICO issuer must obtain capital markets services license, financial advisers must get a financial advisory license (from the FAA), and a digital asset exchange must be approved and acknowledged by the MAS.

The New Payments Framework clarifies that all such intermediaries are liable to “take appropriate steps to identify, assess, and understand their money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risks.” The guidelines order them to develop and implement internal policies under appropriate MAS notices that would allow the central bank to monitor customers’ due diligence and transactions, alongside financial records, per the law.

MAS guidelines say that even if a token is not a security, it still needs to determine its compliance with the AML/CFT acts. It means that they are liable to report suspicious activities and are legally responsible if they are found to be working with people or groups branded as terrorists by Singaporean intelligence agencies and the United Nations.

The MAS in November introduced a new Payment Services Bill (PSB) in the Singaporean Parliament, bringing digital currency under the laws mentioned for domestic and international money transfers and foreign exchange transactions. The updated securities guidelines also include the PSB as an enabler of AML/CFT acts inside the ICO space. Excerpt:

“A person carrying on a business of providing any service of dealing in digital payment tokens or any service of facilitating the exchange of digital payment tokens must be licensed and will be regulated under the PSB for AML/CFT purposes only and will be required to put in place policies, procedures and controls to address its AML/TF risks.”

The rest of the draft, meanwhile, resembles what was issued in November 2017, most notably the eleven kinds of digital tokens and their different obligations.

The updated copy of the new ICO guidelines can be accessed here.

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