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Pakistan shuts down nine firms dealing in cryptocurrency

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has announced it is taking legal action to wind up nine companies that deal in cryptocurrencies and offer ponzi schemes. Cryptocurrencies are banned in Pakistan and India. A release from the commission read: “The SECP has advised public not to be misled by any schemes/deals/plans being offered by these companies:

  • Gold Transmit Network Technology (Pvt) Ltd
  • Green Apple Super Market (Pvt) Ltd
  • Galaxy Typing Jobs (SMC-Pvt) Ltd
  • 3-A Alliance (Pvt) Ltd
  • Pak Memon Impex (Pvt) Ltd
  • Memon Corporation (Pvt) Ltd
  • Humanitas Meritus (SMC-Pvt) Ltd
  • IDG Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd
  • Ayat Enterprises (SMC-Pvt) Ltd

It said these firms collected unauthorised deposits from the public, and illegally leased cars, houses and electronic appliances. “Some of them are dealing in cryptocurrencies and offering ponzi/multi-level marketing schemes in Pakistan,” the release stated.

In April 2018, the State Bank of Pakistan officially banned Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, shortly after India’s Reserve Bank of India enacted a similar ban. However, this is one of the first instances in which the SECP has taken decisive action against companies that deal in cryptocurrencies, Beincrypto reported. The law has been largely unenforced and such action against businesses is rare.

India awaits Supreme Court order on cryptocurrencies

In February, the Supreme Court of India gave the government a “last opportunity” to formulate a cryptocurrency policy. It asked the government for a response within four weeks, failing which, it said, it would take a decision on the RBI’s ban. But after a brief hearing last Friday, the court adjourned the matter once again to the second week of July, AMBCrypto reported.

Government regulations ‘in final stages’, RTI reply reveals

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Moneycontrol reported in January that the government was in the final stages of formulating regulations on cryptocurrencies, according to an RTI response from the Department of Economic Affairs. Coin Crunch India had filed the RTI application on December 13, 2018, asking whether the panel on cryptocurrency had recommended a ban. The panel, set up in December 2017, is headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs.

RBI’s ban on cryptocurrencies

On April 6, 2018, the RBI had issued a circular barring all regulated entities, including banks, from providing services to businesses dealing in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Entities already dealing in virtual currency had to exit the relationship within a specified time. While the RBI stopped short of banning cryptocurrencies entirely, the move severely restricted consumers’ ability to buy or sell cryptocurrencies.

Later that month, Ahmedabad-based Kali Digital Eco Systems, which runs the cryptocurrency exchange CoinRecoil, asked the Delhi High Court to quash the RBI order. Others, including Flinstone Technologies and trade body IAMAI also filed similar petitions.

But in June 2018, the Supreme Court refused to stay the RBI circular, after saying in May that no petitions concerning it could be filed in any high court and that pending petitions would be transferred to the Supreme Court.

On October 25, 2018, the court said it recognised that the government was in the process of formulating a policy, and asked for a timeline. Despite scheduling two more hearings, the court did not receive a response, which led it to impost the four-week deadline.

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Fallout from RBI ban

On October 1, 2018, Zebpay shut down its cryptocurrency exchange, saying  it was unable to find a “reasonable way” to conduct its business. And on October 30,  Harish BV, the founder of crypto exchange Unocoin, was arrested for setting up an ATM kiosk at a mall, Quartz reported.

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