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U.S. companies are taking a closer look at investments, co-branding deals and other ties to the gun industry and its public face, the National Rifle Assn., after the latest school massacre.
Petitions are circulating online targeting companies that offer discounts to NRA members on its website….
Chubb, MetLife, Symantec and Enterprise’s rental-car chains have eliminated discounts and special programs from members of the National Rifle Association after consumers took to social media to voice outrage against the gun lobby.
WSJ.com: US Business
An online push to boycott companies affiliated with the NRA in the wake of the Parkland shooting appears to be having its intended effect. As previously reported , First National Bank of Omaha and Enterprise Holdings—which encompasses rental-car outfits Enterprise, Alamo, and National—cut their ties with the NRA on…
U.S. stocks closed mostly higher Thursday after a wave of selling late in the session erased much of the day’s gains.
Gains in industrial companies and other sectors outweighed losses in banks and healthcare stocks. Energy companies rose after crude oil prices recovered from an early slide.
Public consultations on a new regulatory regime for crypto companies in Italy are now closed. Interested parties were invited by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to share suggestions and comments on a draft decree introducing registration and reporting requirements in the sector. The new set of rules will come into force within 3 months of adoption.
Italy Trying to Understand the Phenomenon
The ministerial decree has been designed to “explore and understand the various aspects of the virtual currency phenomenon”. The legal document, aimed at implementing Italy’s updated and “strengthened” anti-money laundering laws, was published by MEF’s Treasury Department on February 2. Interested parties had two weeks to express their opinions and suggest amendments.
In May 2017 the Italian government issued another decree requiring “service providers related to the use of virtual currency”, like exchanges, to fulfil their obligations to prevent money laundering and illicit crypto transactions. The new document introduces additional responsibilities for crypto businesses. They will have to report regularly their activities to the Finance Ministry.
The text of the proposed decree clarifies that although cryptocurrency is used as a “means of exchange for the purchase of goods and services”, it is not issued by a central bank or other public authority. The embedded disclaimer also states that cryptos are “not necessarily connected to a currency that is a legal tender”.
Exchanges and Merchants to Register and Report
The new notification regime will also be applicable to commercial companies accepting cryptocurrency payments for goods, services and utilities. The Ministry wants to conduct a “systematic survey” starting with determining the number of operators in the sector. Upon commencing activity, every company should register with the Italian Agency of Intermediaries OAM in order to operate legally in the country.
The Department of the Treasury has already completed a preliminary evaluation of the technical specifications for the register, the Ministry of Finance said in a press release. The new regulatory regime is to be launched within 3 months after the decree enters into force. Its implementation responds to the need to understand the new phenomenon and its dimensions, said Roberto Ciciani, Head of the General Directorate for Prevention of Financial Crimes.
Regulators point out that the revised Italian legal framework will comply with the latest EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive – 5MLD, which introduces stricter rules to prevent financial crimes. The previous directive was adopted in Italy on May 25 last year.
The use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by individuals remains largely unregulated in Italy. However, a law requiring identification of parties in crypto transactions has been introduced in the parliament. In 2016 the Italian tax authority Agenzia delle Entrate stated that cryptocurrency purchases and sales are exempt from VAT. With some limitations, personal crypto holdings and gains from transactions do not generate taxable income.
Do you think the new requirements for Italian companies to register and report will lead to more restrictions or to legalization of the crypto sector? Tell us in the comments section below.
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The government of Malta has come up with an idea that businesses dealing with cryptocurrencies may find interesting. A new policy document seeks to set up a special agency which will “certify” blockchain platforms and “verify” crypto transactions. It is supposed to “bring peace of mind” to companies using these technologies to cut out central authorities and banks. Valletta also proposes legislation that will define the roles of intermediaries and regulate initial coin offerings.
Government Will Provide “Legal Certainty and Trust”
The new Malta Digital Innovation Authority will certify blockchain platforms used by companies in the country. It will also be responsible for “verifying” cryptocurrency transactions by checking if the logged information is genuine. The government hopes to bring some peace of mind to businesses using distributed ledgers for cross-border payments.
Authorities in Valletta are recognizing that companies utilize blockchains to cut out central authorities. However, they acknowledge that the technology allows for cheaper and more efficient money transfers. Worried that those platforms are not currently certified in any way, the government has decided to provide some “legal certainty and trust”. Officials believe companies will benefit from the work of the new authority, while also cutting out intermediaries such as banks.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy Silvio Schembri presented the new policy document at a press conference with various stakeholders, the Maltese Independent reported. He called the event a “historic moment” and provided further details on how authorities plan to implement regulations concerning the cryptocurrency sector in successive stages.
The first step will be to set up the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. A bill will set out the regime for the registration of service providers and the certification of technology arrangements, Schembri explained. On stage 2, another draft will formalize the framework for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). A third law will impose regulation on services directly related to cryptocurrencies. Intermediaries like brokers, exchanges, wallet providers, asset managers, and investment advisors will be subjected to its provisions.
Malta Strives to Be a Hub of Innovation
Silvio Schembri stressed that promoting policies which favor the development of Malta as a hub for new technologies, including in the public sector, will be among the main goals. The aim is to foster innovation by creating a successful ecosystem, he added. That will be achieved through the “utilization of cutting edge technology in useful business cases and the adherence to best practices”. The lawmaker also noted that the Digital Innovation Authority would protect Malta’s reputation taking into account its international commitments under anti-money laundering directives.
During the press conference, officials mentioned several applications of distributed ledger technology. In larger companies, internal DTL platforms can be used to maintain payroll systems and record movement of goods and invoices. Businesses can also take advantage of public platforms that share consensus mechanisms such as bitcoin and ethereum. Regulated financial institutions can utilize DTLs to offer services to their clients.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Digital Economy said the government would consult with all stakeholders before finalizing its policies, including relevant authorities like the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) and the police. Local and international representatives of the industry will also be involved in the process. Silvio Schembri added that the public is free to provide feedback in the next three weeks. After that, the bills will be introduced in the Parliament of Malta.
Do you think policies outlined by Maltese authorities will attract more crypto businesses to the island nation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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The recent budget deal has handed U.S. defense companies an extra $ 75 billion over the next two years as the Pentagon boosts spending on aircraft, missiles, tanks and maintaining older equipment.
WSJ.com: US Business
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suspended trading in the stocks of three companies with ties to cryptocurrency. One of the three is also planning an initial coin offering. The SEC says it is concerned about the nature of the companies’ business operations and the value of their assets.
SEC Suspends Trading of Three Stocks
The SEC has “suspended trading in three companies amid questions surrounding similar statements they made about the acquisition of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology-related assets,” the agency announced on Thursday. They are Cherubim Interests, PDX Partners, and Victura Construction Group. The three stocks are traded over-the-counter, with a market capitalization of less than $ 5 million each, according to Factset. The suspension is temporary, beginning on February 16 and ending on March 2.
The agency stated that the three companies issued press releases claiming that they have “acquired AAA-rated assets from a subsidiary of a private equity investor in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, among other things.” However, the SEC says there are questions regarding the nature of the companies’ business operations and the value of their assets.
In addition, Cherubim Interests also announced that it will launch an initial coin offering (ICO). The trading suspension of this company’s shares is also due to its delinquency in filing annual and quarterly reports with the Commission.
Acquisitions and ICO
The three companies’ press releases list the same chief executive officer, Patrick J. Johnson, “who played for the Oregon Ducks and the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL,” wrote the Oregonian.
Johnson told the publication that PDX Partners makes iPhone apps, adding that last month the company “acquired $ 350 million in assets belonging to a private equity firm called NVC Fund Holding Trust, whose portfolio includes ‘cryptocurrency and business financial services’.”
Cherubim Interests and Victura Construction Group have also made similar acquisitions. Furthermore, the former announced on January 3 that it has “executed a financing commitment of $ 100,000,000 to launch [an] initial coin offering for The Self Sustaining Intentional Communities Coin (Symbol SJT),” adding that “The sale of the coins will generate the capital to create self-sustaining intentional communities across the US and across 57 nations.”
In August of last year, the SEC issued an Investor Alert about public companies making ICO-related claims. “The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is warning investors about potential scams involving stock of companies claiming to be related to, or asserting they are engaging in, Initial Coin Offerings (or ICOs),” the agency wrote, adding that “Fraudsters often try to use the lure of new and emerging technologies to convince potential victims to invest their money in scams.”
The SEC’s action against the three companies come at the same time another US regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), issued a warning about dump-and-pump schemes involving “thinly traded or new ‘alternative’ virtual currencies, digital coins or tokens.”
What do you think of the SEC’s action? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Seven major crypto companies operating in the UK have announced the formation an independent cryptocurrency trade body. The group, Crypto UK, has stated that its principal aim is to “improve industry standards and engage policymakers.”
Leading Cryptocurrency Companies form Crypto UK Trade Body
Seven leading cryptocurrency companies operating the UK have formed an independent trade body tasked with developing self-regulatory standards for the cryptocurrency industry, in addition to “engag[ing] policymakers.”
The members of Crypto UK are Coinbase, Etoro, Cex.io, Blockex, Commerceblock, Coinshares, and Cryptocompare – comprising trading platforms, exchanges, asset managers, merchants, comparison websites, and intermediaries from the cryptocurrency sector.
“Regulation is Imminent”
The Crypto UK chairman and managing director of Etoro, Iqbal Gandham, described the trade body’s mission as “promot[ing] best practice and to work with government and regulators,” emphasizing his hope that the group can develop “the blueprint for what a future regulatory framework will look like.”
The CEO of Coinbase UK, Zeeshan Feroz, stated that the “fundamental” goal of Crypto UK is to “engag[e] as a single industry with the government,” adding that “Regulation is imminent and that’s a good thing.”
Crypto UK has issued a code of conduct outlining the principles by which its members are expected to adhere. The code of conduct emphasizes the need for members to operate with transparency and in full adherence to UK regulatory requirements, in addition to making practical propositions with regards to the management of customer funds.
Cryptocurrency Sector “Severely Misunderstood” by Regulators
Crypto UK has stated that it seeks to “raise understanding of the sector at a time of significant growth in popularity,” emphasizing the need for pressure to be placed on government “to introduce appropriate regulation to protect consumers and business certainty, [whilst] allowing the sector to flourish in the UK.”
Mr. Gandham described the cryptocurrency industry as being “severely misunderstood” by mainstream institutions. “That’s why Crypto UK has been established,” Mr. Dandham said, “to promote best practice and to work with government and regulators to ensure that the UK benefits from the exciting potential of this international technology.”
What is your response to the formation of Crypto UK? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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The new law has something in store for some “inverted” companies that did mergers overseas and lowered their U.S. taxes: higher taxes.
WSJ.com: US Business