China targets cryptocurrencies in online pyramid scheme crackdown

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2018   •   3400

An attendant holds a bitcoin sign during the opening of Hong Kong’s first bitcoin retail store February 28, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

(Reuters) – China will crack down on online pyramid schemes, including speculation masked as cryptocurrencies and online games, the public security ministry said on Friday.

The ministry will act jointly with the industrial and commercial department to stamp out pyramid-type schemes, besides punishing those who swindle students and vulnerable groups, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Chinese regulators have moved to rein in financial risks associated with virtual currency trades and pyramid schemes.

A court this month sentenced two people to life imprisonment for fraud in a pyramid scheme involving 15.6 billion yuan ($2.44 billion) that sucked in more than 200,000 people.

Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

DOF warns public vs bogus cryptocurrency platform

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) has warned the public against an article alleging that the Philippines is creating a platform for its citizens to invest in cryptocurrency.

In a statement, the DOF said the article claiming that the government has created a platform called “Bitcoin Lifestyle” is fake news.

“There is no such effort by the government,” Finance assistant secretary Antonio Joselito Lambino II said.

“We categorically deny that there is such a move, and warn the public against potentially harmful financial transactions with those behind the article,” he added.

The DOF said the fake news article also stated that President Duterte is “urging all citizens of the Philippines to learn about the platform to get involved.

The article also claimed that the “tax revenues will be huge and will benefit all citizens” and “will go to the financing of Philippines’ retirement and to counteract the crisis of learning support services.”

“This is false. We urge the public to exercise caution in their investments, and to keep their expectations of returns realistic,” Lambino said.

The Finance official also urged the public to report similarly suspicious investment schemes to the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), with telephone number 8818-5704.

“We warn unscrupulous individuals and groups attempting to lure the public into unauthorized and deceptive investment schemes that the government is monitoring the public space for such schemes, and will take appropriate legal and regulatory action,” he added.

SEC orders ALMAMICO, ALAMCCO to stop Ponzi-like investment scheme

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday ordered Alabel Maasim Mining (ALMAMICO) Corp., Alabel-Maasim Credit Cooperative (ALAMCCO) to stop soliciting money through the Ponzi scheme and without the necessary license.

The SEC said a cease and desist order was issued by the Commission En Banc on June 4, directing ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO to stop engaging in offering and selling to the public securities in the form of investment contracts without the necessary license from the agency.

The said entities operate largely in Sarangani, General Santos and Koronadal Cities, enticing members to invest their money in exchange for a 35 percent monthly return which is supposedly compounded when investors lock in their investments for a year.

According to the SEC, the scheme satisfies the elements of an investment contract, including the placement of money, the money invested is placed in a common enterprise, expectation of profits, and the generation of expected profits from the entrepreneurial and managerial efforts of others.

“ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO were also found to have engaged in public offering of securities when they indiscriminately or randomly promoted their investment schemes through videos posted online,” the agency said in a news release.

The SEC said that under Section 8.1 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code, “securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines, without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the Commission.”

The commission also noted that aside from operating without license, the investment scheme of ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO also resembles a Ponzi scheme, which is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new members.

The SEC has ordered the group’s officials and partners to stop promoting the scheme, and immediately delete the promotional videos from the internet.

Those who have invested in the said companies are also advised to contact the SEC offices in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

President Rodrigo Duterte had previously ordered agencies to launch a crackdown on companies that offer ‘too good to be true’ investment schemes.

Last May, hundreds of ALAMCCO members gathered in Sarangani to protest against the government crackdown, insisting that their investment scheme is not a scam.

EXCLUSIVE: G20 financial heads to urge crypto-asset monitoring to safeguard financial stability

UNTV News   •   March 15, 2018

Cryptocurrencies are seen on a website that tracks the value of initial coin offerings (ICO) in this illustration photo taken September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders will call on international standard-setting bodies on March 20 for stronger monitoring of crypto-assets and to assess the need for a multilateral response as such assets could at some point threaten financial stability.

The call appears in a draft communique prepared for the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Buenos Aires on March 19-20, seen by Reuters.

The financial leaders will say the technological innovation behind crypto-currencies has the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system.

“Crypto currencies, however, raise issues with respect to consumer and investor protection, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing. At some point they could have financial stability implications,” the draft communique adds.

“We agree that international standard setting bodies strengthen their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks… and assess whether multilateral responses may be needed.”

Regulators globally have raised the alarm over cryptocurrencies, saying they may aid money laundering and terrorist financing, hurt consumers and undermine trust in the global financial system.

Japan was the first country to adopt a national system to oversee cryptocurrency trading. It carried out checks on several exchanges this year after the theft of $530 million from one exchange, Coincheck Inc, in January.

France and Germany have said they will make joint proposals to regulate the bitcoin cryptocurrency market.

The head of the European Union’s watchdog said a short-term strategy could be to focus on applying anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules, warning consumers of the risk of trading in cryptocurrencies and preventing banks from holding them.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said last week that many online trading platforms for cryptocurrencies should be registered with the regulator and subject to additional rules, in a further sign regulators are cracking down on the digital currency sector.

In a statement, the SEC said these “potentially unlawful” platforms may be giving investors an unearned sense of safety by labeling themselves as “exchanges.” The regulator said these platforms need to register with the SEC as a regulated national securities exchange or as an alternate trading system, or ATS.

Virtual currencies have existed for years but speculation in them has recently ballooned – along with scams promising investors returns of over 1,000 percent in weeks.

In a time of volatile markets, hackers are also active in the sector.

Bitcoin, the best known virtual currency, lost over half its value earlier this year after surging more than 1,300 percent last year.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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