Category Archives: AMF

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French Regulator Tightens Controls on Unauthorized Crypto Firms

Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), the body responsible for regulating financial markets in France has noted in its last update that four cryptocurrency websites have been blacklisted.

This follows the regulators blacklisting 20 new investment websites, mostly cryptocurrency-related ventures, back in September. At the time, AMF advised French citizens investing in these new projects that “no advertising materials should make you overlook the fact that high returns always involve high risk”.

Now, nine more websites have been listed as “proposing atypical investments without being authorized to do so,” on the AMF website on December 14th. The blacklisted websites contain four crypto websites which reportedly centre on unauthorized investment offerings.

According to the AMF, websites such as one of the blacklisted sites elos-patrimoine.com were accused of offering monthly returns to investors between 3% and 5% without the authorization to offer guarantees. The other cryptocurrency websites were live-crypto.com.net, iminage.com, and infoconso.info.

French investors were warned that many new cryptocurrency projects are still awaiting AMF’s approval to offer services, and unfamiliar websites should be treated with caution by the public, particularly given the current wave of new crypto websites coming online.

The move by the AMF is part of an increased focus in ensuring that new ICO’s are fulfilling regulator’s legal registration and operating requirements. In September, the French Parliament passed the Autorité des marchés financiers framework drafted early in the year, designed to protect those investing in ICOs.

Earlier this year, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire described cryptocurrency as a “revolution”. Another prominent national, former French finance minister Christine Lagarde, now IMF head, described future international digital currency regulation as “inevitable”.

In September, France’s Minister for the Economy and Finance announced that the government had accepted an article of the Business Growth and Transformation bill (PACTE) dedicated to Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) which stipulates that prior to any ICO, a firm must apply for a license from the AMF providing detailed information on the offer and issuer.

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700 French Savers Targeted By Bogus Exchanges in $35 Million Hype

The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French independent stock market regulator in that country, has told French newspaper La Parisienne that 700 savers have fallen foul of a current bout of phone scams in this year alone.

The amount of money lost to the scams is estimated to be around EUR 31 million ($35 million) according to the newspaper report. The scammers have taken to targeting victims via phone, after promising huge investment returns on Bitcoin via ads posted by phony sellers online.

Unfortunately, most of the victims are not crypto-aware, know nothing of the technology, and can only see the possibility of making a fast return on their savings simply too good to pass up, according to the French site Cryptonaute.

Lawyer Hélène Féron-Poloni, who is a specialist in inheritance cases, maintains that most savers have exactly no idea what’s happening when they commit to transferring their funds to “fabulous investments,” often confused by the technical jargon fed to them by the callers.

Marketing Director of Coinhouse, Brian O’Hagan, describe this year’s epidemic as “a plague, we’ve spotted over 200 fraudulent websites,” he commented.

These events, involving scammers either offering high returns for Bitcoin investment or as has been the case in the UK, using celebrities to promote unsound and often illegal deals, are worrying, but the cases of Bitcoin used in major crimes have been proven to be highly exaggerated.

It is undeniable that just like cash, cryptocurrencies are on the radar of criminals but the use of Bitcoin in criminal activity has dropped to 35% of the market share from a peak of 80% when the flagship digital currency was in its infancy.

In the US, a senior member of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies Centre on Sanctions and Illicit Finance recently spoke out against anti-crypto rhetoric, particularly those aimed at the financing of militant jihads, a reason often used by governments as a cause celebre for not advocating the use of cryptocurrencies. He referred to a recent report which found that:

“The use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups has only involved low-level transactions – their main funding still stems from conventional banking and money remittance services.”

In response to this year’s figures, the Autorite des Marches Financiers has increased its blacklist of dubious exchanges suggesting that they offer “unauthorized operations and atypical investments” warning investors and savers that “no advertising materials should make you overlook the fact that high returns always involve high risk.”

France remains open to cryptocurrency and blockchain projects and the AMF is also gaining sweeping powers to grant licenses to new initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country. The French government is hopeful that with sound legislation and a legal framework, France will be able to continue to attract investors from around the world.

 

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New French ICO Framework Attracts Innovation, Boosts Macron’s Business Plan

France is continuing to follow President Macron’s plan raise its business profile in the world by establishing a legal framework for ICOs.

A recent Autorité des Marchés Financier (AMF) annual report indicated that ICOs are most definitely on the agenda for further regulatory framework as Robert Ophèle, President of the AMF, indicated that the government body would:

“…continue to reflect on changes in the regulatory framework in the face of new offers, in particular, the Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and to promote at European level the French regulator’s approach to innovation.”

The government has now taken one step further with a new announcement by finance minister Bruno Le Maire that the corresponding legislation, Article 26, had now been “adopted in (parliamentary) committee”, to improve business growth in the country, adding, “This legal framework will attract innovators from around the world of blockchain…”

✅Article 26 adopté en commission #PACTE !

➡Un cadre juridique des #ICO est créé. L’@AMF_actu pourra délivrer un visa aux acteurs respectant des critères de protection des épargnants
➡Ce cadre juridique va attirer les innovateurs du monde entier #blockchain #DirectAN

— Bruno Le Maire (@BrunoLeMaire) September 12, 2018

The legislation will allow the AMF to now approve businesses wanting to launch ICOs in France, given certain criteria are met by companies that “those projects provide specific guarantees for investors”.

Law firm Kramer Levin sees the new legislation providing a clear a definition of tokens for would-be French investors, suggesting that a token is:

“An intangible property representing, in numerical form, one or more rights that can be issued, registered, conserved or transferred using a shared electronic registration mechanism that facilitates the identification, directly or indirectly, of the owner of said property.”

After the lackluster and largely ineffective government led by previous president Francois Holland, Macron’s new regime has taken businesses to task with real vigor in an attempt to refresh outmoded business practices and regulations and inspire overseas faith in a new forward-looking approach, largely driven by government.

President Macron is seen by those that know him well and experts in the sector as a pro-tech leader, believing that he will further the interests of startups in the crypto industry as part of his business rejuvenation plan for the nation.

 

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French Regulators May Be Taking Next Step Towards Easing the Path for ICOs

The French government seems to be moving towards regulating ICOs in 2018, according to a recent Autorité des Marchés Financier (AMF) annual report, writes CoinGape.

According to AMF’s report,  ICOs are most definitely on the agenda for further regulatory framework as Robert Ophèle, President of the AMF indicated recently, suggesting that the government body will:

“…continue to reflect on changes in the regulatory framework in the face of new offers, in particular, the Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and to promote at European level the French regulator’s approach to innovation.”

The AMF last published an update in February of this year with its analysis of the legal qualification of cryptocurrency derivatives, as well as ICO guidance resulting from a public consultation of the relevant actors on the French market, according to law firm Kramer Levin.

The AMF has now launched a program of research called UNICORN (Universal Node to ICO’s Research & Network) in order to give greater clarity to those involved and to better protect potential investors. The government body has also suggested that more academic research is necessary, although it has rather followed the direction of many governments globally of promoting awareness campaigns to point out the risks of Bitcoin to “unsuspecting” potential investors.

On a positive note, it appears that the AMF has accepted that ICOs may have a productive place within France’s financial structure in the not too distant future. Ophèle said:

“In parallel, considering that certain forms of ICO could in the future constitute an alternative mode of financing for a segment of the economy in connection with blockchain technology, the AMF has launched a program of support and research of ICOs.”

The French press is far more upbeat on the question of coin offerings, recently suggesting that France should become ‘la Capitale des ICO’. The recent AMF suggestions require that best practices should be clear and complied with, also that they could extend the scope of current regulations which treat ICOs as public offerings of securities. Another suggestion is to issue an ICO license based on the regulatory model.

In response to these suggestions, the AMF received 82 responses, most of which chose for the new regulation to be optional, with a specifically tailored framework.

 

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