Strict Rules for ICOs Prepared in Russia.
The Ministry of Communications of Russia has presented a new set of regulations for ICOs. Companies organizing token sales will be obliged to guarantee that investors can sell back their tokens. Coin issuers will have to prove they control at least 100 million rubles of authorized capital in a Russian bank account.
The Russian Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications has prepared a new decree introducing strict rules for initial coin offerings (ICOs). The document has been published by the official portal regulation.gov.ru. The draft aims to regulate token sales and protect investors’ rights. It also defines digital tokens as “records in a distributed information system, created through cryptographic algorithms”.
Companies conducting ICOs will be required to guarantee they are able to buy back their tokens at a nominal price, Kommersant reports. The decree states that startups should possess authorized capital of at least ₽100 million rubles (>$1.7 million). Firms will have to set up a Russian bank account and sell their tokens only for rubles. Businesses taking advantage of crowdfunding through coin offerings must be registered in the Russian Federation and licensed to issue cryptocurrency. They can also apply for a special accreditation from the Telecom Ministry on a voluntary basis. It will be granted for a period of five years.
According to the draft, companies can use the funds they’ve raised to finance only projects that guarantee their ability to buy back the tokens. In other words, the money they have received should be invested as promised during the sale. The compliance with these obligations will be monitored by companies contracted by the ministry.
The decree has been criticized by representatives of the cryptographic sector for not covering some important aspects related to ICO. The document says nothing about advance sales that give investors the opportunity to buy chips at discount rates. The option of “lock up” is not mentioned either, which prohibits the resale of coins for a certain period.
Members of the Russian cryptographic community claim that the rules go too far and are not synchronized with the legislation introduced in the Duma. “Mincomsvyaz should not be managing these financial platforms,” said Arseniy Shteltsin, executive director of the Russian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain.
Two bills aimed at regulating the digital economy have been filed in the lower house of Russia’s parliament. The draft law “On Digital Financial Assets”, authored by the Finance Ministry, legalizes initial coin offerings along with other crypto-related activities.
Critics also fear that the decree prepared by the Telecom Ministry will force Russian companies to organize their coin offerings elsewhere, in more favorable jurisdictions. “We haven’t seen a single ICO in Russia. All token sales are conducted abroad”, Artem Inyutin, managing partner at TMT Investments, told Kommersant.
A study conducted by East-West Digital News and ICO Bench reveals that businesses from Eastern Europe account for 17% of all initial coin offerings and pre-sales in 2017, Bitnovosti reports. The authors have identified 237 companies from the region that have attracted 22% of the funds raised through ICOs: at least $1.2 billion. 130 of these businesses came from the Russian Federation, according to the report titled “The Token Spring of Central & Eastern Europe”.
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