Attorney general’s assistance sought in cryptocurrency case

Published October 23, 2021
Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture. — Reuters/File
Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has sought assistance from the attorney general of Pakistan in a matter related to virtual currency in the country.

Justice Jawad Hassan directed the counsel for the parties in the pending case to conduct a joint meeting at the office of the additional attorney general in Lahore and come to a logical conclusion.

The lawyers have been asked to prepare their brief in light of the relevant case laws.

The judge issued these directions on a writ petition challenging the jurisdiction of a special court for banking offences to hear a post-arrest bail petition by a suspect arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The suspect allegedly defrauded public at large in the name of investment in cryptocurrency to the tune of over Rs260m.

During the hearing, a lawyer placed on record a circular of 2018 issued by external relations department, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) whereby all the banks and financial institutions had been advised to refrain from all kinds of dealing in virtual currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Pakcoin, OneCoin, DasCoin, Pay Diamond being not legalised or guaranteed by the government of Pakistan.

Another lawyer produced a copy of a document issued by the Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) in which it had been clarified that no approval or license had been issued to any trading platform for virtual currency by the SECP because it was not the regulator to deal with such matters.

Barrister Toby Landau, the Queen’s counsel, who has experience of dealing with the issue of commercial and international law, informed the court that in this connection various cases had initially been filed in international courts, including International Arbitration in Singapore and some of those courts had also passed judgments.

However, he said, so far no authority anywhere in the world had concluded whether virtual currency came within the definition of security, commodity or currency.

The judge would resume hearing on Nov 5 when the government lawyer will ensure the presence of a senior officer from the FBR,

well conversant with the facts of the case.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2021

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