67 Cryptocurrency Companies Probed by UK Regulator
The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reportedly provided an update of its investigations of crypto companies. A total of 67 inquiries were launched, 49 of which have been closed, leaving 18 businesses currently under investigation. The UK government has reportedly said it is ready to give power to the FCA to regulate the crypto industry.
The U.K.’s FCA has released new information regarding its investigations into crypto businesses to The Telegraph in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The publication reported on Saturday that the FCA revealed that “as of Nov. 12 it had opened inquiries into 67 firms involved in cryptocurrency businesses.” The Financial Times elaborated:
“The Financial Conduct Authority on Sunday confirmed it was investigating 18 businesses involved in the sale of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The regulator has also issued alerts and warnings about dozens of companies suspected of cryptocurrency investment scams.”
Out of 67 inquiries, 49 have been closed. The FCA issued consumer alerts for 39 firms. “Alerts are issued by the regulator when it is concerned a company is operating without authorisation, and is a suspected scam,” the publication described. The other 10 inquiries were closed because the companies involved were either warned that they may need authorization to continue their activities or there was not enough evidence to proceed with the investigation. The regulator declined to name the companies under investigation.
In May, the FCA investigated 24 crypto firms. In November, The Telegraph reported that the number of unauthorized crypto companies the regulator suspected of operating in the financial services industry jumped to 50, citing information from a different FOI request. In addition, the regulator has received seven whistle-blowing reports from employees of crypto businesses this year, whereas it did not receive any in the previous three years.
While cryptocurrency transactions are currently not regulated in the U.K., companies that sell regulated investments with cryptocurrencies as their underlying assets may need approval from the FCA. However, “it is currently unclear in some instances whether certain assets fall within the scope,” the news outlet noted.
Following a report by the Treasury Committee published in September stating that “‘Wild West’ crypto-assets should be regulated,” the government earlier this month said that it is ready to give the FCA power to oversee the cryptocurrency industry. The authority will launch a consultation early next year to determine how the crypto market should be regulated.
John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, explained that the government will discuss whether crypto assets that “have comparable features to specified investments but that fall outside the current perimeter” should be regulated, the news outlet quoted him as saying. Glen further detailed:
“Subject to the outcome of this consultation, the government stands ready to legislate to expand the regulatory perimeter to ensure that FCA regulation can be applied to all cryptoassets that have comparable features to security tokens, regardless of the way they are structured.”
Furthermore, the FCA said in October that it is considering banning the sale of crypto derivatives. In November, news.Bitcoin.com reported that the regulator indicated that a “comprehensive response” to the illicit adoption of crypto assets is being planned.
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