Pakistan’s financial crime watchdog looks to ban crypto sites

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has urged the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block access to various websites that deal in cryptocurrencies.

Dawn, which reports on local developments and current affairs, reported the story on 16 January, saying the measures were intended to prevent fraud and money laundering.

Pakistan has been ambiguous about cryptocurrencies, with the government and central bank never openly approving of them. However, Pakistani residents have developed a taste for digital assets.

With the national currency often suffering, Pakistanis have been looking for alternative ways to store their money and holdings. This may now become more difficult.

FIA director-general Sanaullah Abbasi commented on the matter during a conference on Saturday after meeting with State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) representatives.

The country is looking to suspend access to fraudulent websites that may put consumers at risk. At the same time, SBP reps used the opportunity of the meeting to propose guidelines on how crypto should be regulated. Abbasi was adamant that “crypto has given a new dimension to the fraud”.

Abbasi has confirmed that the FIA has had to deal with an increasing number of fraud cases that originate in crypto and ultimately harm consumers.

The FIA confirmed that it had been trying to reach Binance to discuss a suspected fraud case that shorthanded investors of $100m.

Meanwhile, the government of Pakistan and the country’s central bank even reportedly suggested banning crypto altogether.

The criteria for blocking a website have not been clearly established in public, but they seem to pertain to any website that offers any product involving cryptocurrencies, such as exchanges, for example.

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Updated: 01/18/2022 — 10:00