PTA to be approached for blocking crypto portals

Published January 16, 2022
Federal Investigation Agency Director-General Dr Sanaullah Abbasi. — Photo courtesy: FIA website
Federal Investigation Agency Director-General Dr Sanaullah Abbasi. — Photo courtesy: FIA website

KARACHI: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director-General Dr Sanaullah Abbasi on Saturday said the agency will approach the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for blocking websites dealing in cryptocurrencies to prevent fraud and possible money laundering.

He was talking to the media after holding a meeting with a team of senior officials of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the Cyber Crime Circle Office. “The SBP officials gave a presentation in the meeting about a regulating mechanism,” said the FIA chief.

The SBP team informed the participants of the meeting that the central bank had submitted recommendations recently under the directions of the Sindh High Court for regulating cryptocurrencies.

Mr Abbasi said legal experts would also be approached to deal with fraud and other issues arising out of cryptocurrencies. “Crypto has given a new dimension to the fraud,” remarked Mr Abbasi.

FIA chief says virtual currency has given a new dimension to fraud

Pointing out that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have declared cryptocurrency legal but it is banned in China and other countries, the FIA DG observed that we were mainly concerned about fraud and possible money laundering aspects.

Earlier, it was pointed out in the meeting that there was no section of law available in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, Foreign Exchange Remittance Act 1947 (FERA) and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 (AMLA) regarding illegal/misuse of cryptocurrency.

“In some cases, the Cyber Crime Wing took cognisance under section-23 of FERA and AMLA.”

“There is no regulatory framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in order to comply with the FATF requirements,” the meeting was informed.

It was further informed that the SBP and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan have adopted a ‘prohibited approach’ and issued various instructions on VCs (virtual currency).

“The SBP had issued an advisory to general public and banks to refrain from dealing with virtual currencies, initial coins offering, etc.”

“The FIA has taken action over complaints of the people that they have been cheated,” said Mr Abbasi. He revealed that data was being collected about possible suspects involved in this scam with the citizens.

The FIA has recently initiated a probe into the mega financial scam after 11 apps linked to popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance had stopped working, defrauding Pakistani investors of over $100 million (Rs17.7 billion).

Also, it had arrested Dr Zafar from Faisalabad five months back on the charges of defrauding people through cryptocurrency.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2022

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