Lithuania: Central Bank Policy Update Opens Crypto Investment Funds to Professional Investors

The Central Bank of Lithuania has recently updated its policies on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), effectively allowing cryptocurrency-based investment funds to operate in the country.

According to Finance Magnates, the central bank has reportedly attempted to give financial market participants (FMPs) a “level playing field” when looking into the nascent industry. The Bank of Lithuania has now established that FMPs can launch investment funds for “virtual assets,” and has created parameters for how and when these assets can be used as a payment method.

The documents read:

Taking into account current market developments and evolving regulatory regimes as well as seeking to ensure a level playing field for all financial market participants, the Board of the Bank of Lithuania has updated its position on virtual assets and initial coin offering[s].

The central bank’s new policy means professional investors can create funds for digital assets, and that private companies can receive cryptocurrency payments processed by third-party exchanges, that turn them into local fiat currency.

It notes, however, that FMPs can’t accept digital assets if they’re then required to repay them, with or without interest. They’re also prohibited from issuing cryptocurrency-based loans, or from accepting virtual assets as collateral, unless they’re legally seen as securities.

Per the central bank, FMP should still attempt to separate their traditional financial activities from those related to virtual assets. They should, in fact, not provide services related to the cryptocurrency industry.

Crypto Growing in Lithuania

In Lithuania, the cryptocurrency scene has notably been growing. Recently, cryptocurrency wallet provider Blockchain.com opened offices in the country, and the amount raised by ICOs based in the country has kept on growing.

According to the report, it may have been behind Lithuania’s recent move, as the country saw a need for tougher anti-fraud measures with the growing popularity of the fundraising practice. As CryptoGlobe covered, in April of last year the central bank initiated a dialogue between crypto investors, banks, and regulators.

UK's Regulator Warns Against Fraudulent Firm Cloning Financial Giant TP ICAP

The UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has uncovered another allegedly fraudulent crypto-related scheme.

On Friday (May 24, 2019), the FCA revealed that a company called ICAP Crypto had been impersonating an established firm known as ICAP Europe Limited. ICAP Crypto reportedly attempted to lure unsuspecting investors into a potential scam involving cryptocurrencies.

Using Company Details Belonging to Legitimate Financial Firms

While ICAP Crypto’s management does not claim its services are regulated by the FCA, the allegedly fraudulent firm has been using the company details that belong to legitimate UK-registered financial service providers.

The FCA has warned that the potential scammers operating ICAP Crypto may be using the company license information of established firms in order to lure investors into investing into a fraudulent crypto scheme.

According to the FCA, ICAP Crypto has provided contact information which may be “mixed” with details that belong to TP ICAP, one of the largest global interdealer brokers. Moreover, the FCA cautioned users that ICAP Crypto has launched a website that is not licensed by the FCA to offer financial services.

No Details Regarding Crypto Services

There’s also no association between the management and services provided by TP ICAP and ICAP Crypto, the UK’s financial regulator clarified. Furthermore, the FCA’s investigation has revealed that ICAP Crypto appears to be offering various crypto-related services including a platform to launch initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Although ICAP Crypto seems to be offering several different cryptocurrency-related products, the FCA found that the allegedly fraudulent firm has not provided any specific details regarding its services.

ICAP Crypto’s management states that its services include “a sophisticated blend of engineering with experience to empower thousands of marketers to access markets around the world through the use of digital currency entirely outside the traditional financial system.” However, it remains unclear what type of services the company actually offers.

FCA Planning To Draft Comprehensive Crypto Regulations

In January 2019, the UK’s financial regulator called for increased regulatory oversight over the leading European nation’s cryptocurrency market. In order to create regulations for digital assets, the FCA launched a consultation which requested feedback regarding how to regulate crypto transactions.

The FCA had specifically asked for feedback on how to regulate crypto exchanges, digital asset payment processing services, wallet providers, and broker dealers offering crypto derivatives.