Digital Assets: India Plans To Criminalize Crypto-Assets (Reuters)

March 15, 2021 | Digital Assets, News, Regulations

If a bill to be proposed becomes law, India would be the first major economy to make cryptos illegal.

A Reuters report today, which quoted a senior Indian government official, said India plans to outlaw cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, making anyone trading or holding them punishable with fines.

Reuters did not name the official but said they had direct knowledge of the bill to be proposed to the country’s lawmakers. It proposes to criminalize possession, issuance, mining, trading, and transferring crypto-assets.

India’s finance minister had a different stance

The news is at odds with a statement that India’s Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman made at a conclave organized by India Today, a media organization, and reported today:

“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options. We will allow certain windows for people to do experiments on blockchain, bitcoins, or cryptocurrency.”

However, she clarified that India’s Cabinet would take a final call on the matter, adding that a note was under preparation and nearing completion for consideration of the Cabinet.

Blow to Indian bitcoin fans

The Reuters news, if confirmed, would mean that it is nearly certain that the bill would become law because Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has the numbers to push it through.

In January, it was reported that India was planning its own digital currency and would therefore ban non-government private currencies such as bitcoin.

The official further informed Reuters that holders of cryptocurrencies would have six months to liquidate their crypto investments. After that time they would be liable to fines and penalties.

However, the official did draw a discerning line between cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. The government had no plans to block the latter, the official said on condition of anonymity, because it recognized the technology for its potential to revolutionize international transactions.

Meanwhile, volumes on Indian crypto exchanges are running at record levels, with investors wanting to hitch a ride on bitcoin’s strident rally in recent months.

On Sunday, the leading crypto scaled a fresh all-time high above $61,500.

Related Story:  Indian Government Mulling New Lockdown on Cryptocurrencies

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