France Updates Crypto Scams List
L’Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French financial markets authority, has updated its blacklist of businesses providing services that entangle investors in fraudulent schemes. Most of the 21 new names belong to the grey segment of the crypto industry and offer investment opportunities in initial coin offerings (ICOs), cryptocurrency trading or mining projects. What’s common between these entities is that neither of them is authorized to operate in the sector. In its official announcement, the AMF notes that the list is updated regularly but warns that new actors appear all the time.
The move comes after in March French authorities blacklisted 15 online platforms suspected of similar offenses. Later, in July AMF stated that digital asset investments pose a risk to French citizens as they could be offered by scammers. The regulatory body included the warning in its annual financial industry risk assessment report. Despite being categorical about the threats, the agency admitted that the lack of reliable data hampers its efforts to single out and estimate the risks associated with this type of financial activities.
The task of the French regulators is further complicated by the fact that cryptocurrencies and crypto-related products are not yet fully covered by the current legal definitions in the country’s legislation. Under French law, they are neither considered currencies nor regarded as financial instruments. Besides, it’s unclear which particular state institution bears responsibility and is competent to perform control and oversight functions.
Nevertheless, the AMF concluded earlier this year that crypto derivatives should be subject to the rules applicable to financial instruments under the Monetary and Financial Code of France. The same law is in full force in regards to the acts of approval of entities that are selling these products, as well as the regulations governing their operations.
Efforts to Make ICOs Safer for Investors
French authorities defined digital tokens as rights to the future use of services offered by the issuer noting that investors are actually betting on the success of the respective projects. However, tokens were not recognized as financial instruments. Despite these clarifications, crowdfunding through ICOs remained generally outside the scope of the French regulatory framework at the time.
This month, lawmakers in Paris adopted new legislation introducing guidelines as part of a legal framework designed to regulate token sales in the crypto space. The law grants the AMF powers to license entities planning to conduct ICOs under certain conditions such as providing specific guarantees to participants. Token issuers will also be required to disclose any relevant information that would allow investors to make informed decisions about their projects.
The French financial markets authority considered the lack of dedicated regulations an inherent risk of ICOs. The new rules which are part of president Emmanuel Macron’s plan to improve the business climate in the country, along with the decision to significantly cut taxes on crypto profits, can potentially turn France into another European jurisdiction with crypto-friendly characteristics.
Do you think the measures taken by the AMF will limit the number of fraudulent schemes related to cryptocurrencies? Share your opinions on the subject in the comments section below.