The government of India has provided some updates on its cryptocurrency bill and investigations of crypto exchanges in Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament. “Crypto assets are by definition borderless and require international collaboration to prevent regulatory arbitrage,” said the minister of state in the Ministry of Finance.
Indian Government Answers Questions About Crypto Bill and Regulation
The Indian government answered two sets of questions about cryptocurrency and its regulation Monday by various members of Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament.
Parliament member Bhartruhari Mahtab asked the minister of finance to state “the current status of the cryptocurrency bill, which was due for being tabled during the winter session, 2021, of the Parliament” and “the timeframe within which the cryptocurrency bill would be tabled and subsequently be open for public inputs.”
Pankaj Chaudhary, minister of state in the Ministry of Finance, replied without providing a specific timeframe:
Crypto assets are by definition borderless and require international collaboration to prevent regulatory arbitrage. Therefore, any legislation on the subject can be effective only with significant international collaboration on evaluation of the risks and benefits and evolution of common taxonomy and standards.
Mahtab further asked the finance minister to state which ministry and/or department would regulate cryptocurrencies and crypto tokens, and which would regulate other types of “virtual digital assets,” such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized applications (dApps), real estate tokens, and other blockchain-based assets.
Chaudhary simply replied:
Currently, policy related to crypto assets and related ecosystem is with the Ministry of Finance.
Parliament Members Also Ask for Details of Crypto Exchanges Under Investigation
Another set of questions by several other parliament members requests “the details of crypto exchanges which are under investigation by the government for money laundering and tax evasion cases.”
Chaudhary explained that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) “is investigating several cases related to crypto frauds wherein a few crypto exchanges have also been found involved in money laundering.” The minister explained that as of Dec. 14:
Proceeds of crime amounting to Rs. 907.48 crores have been attached/seized, three persons have been arrested and four Prosecution Complaints have been filed before the Special Court, PMLA, in these cases.
Furthermore, under the Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA), assets amounting to Rs. 289.68 crores ($35,046,152) have been seized. In addition, one Show Cause Notice has also been issued to Zanmai Labs, which operates crypto exchange Wazirx, and its director under FEMA for transactions involving crypto assets worth Rs. 2,790.74 crores.
The minister added that 12 cryptocurrency exchanges have been investigated for evading Goods and Services Tax (GST). So far, 110.97 crore rupees, including interest and penalties, have been recovered. Moreover, eight cases are under further investigation and four cases have been closed. He provided Lok Sabha with the table below:
Table provided by the Ministry of Finance in answering crypto questions from Lok Sabha parliament members.
Chaudhary also clarified:
Currently, crypto assets are unregulated in India. The government does not register crypto exchanges.
India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said in October that the government plans to discuss crypto regulation with the G20 countries to establish “a technology-driven regulatory framework” for crypto. Ajay Seth, India’s economic affairs secretary, said last week that the G20 nations aim to build a policy consensus on crypto assets for better global regulation. Last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Sitharaman discussed crypto regulation during the ninth India-U.S. Economic and Financial Partnership meeting.