The Botswana government is set to present a “Virtual Asset Bill” to the country’s parliament, a move that could see it become one of the first countries in Africa to have laws regulating cryptocurrencies.
Preventing Cryptos from Increasing the Risks
A Botswana government draft document that proposes to regulate new and developing virtual assets businesses, as well as to provide a regulatory body with its functions and powers, is now set to be presented before the country’s lawmakers, a recent government gazette has shown.
The planned presentation of the Virtual Asset Bill alongside other bills such as the Financial Intelligence Bill comes just over two months after the country’s central bank warned residents engaged in cryptocurrency trading that Botswana does not have a regulatory framework to govern such trading.
Yet, in the draft that was published in the Extraordinary Government Gazette on December 23, Botswana authorities suggest they are not only seeking to recognize crypto trade but plan to include “provisions for managing, mitigating and preventing money laundering and financing of terrorism” into the proposed law. This draft seeks to reduce the proliferation of risks associated with new technologies and virtual assets.
The draft bill addresses companies and entities who issue tokens.
Further, Part III states that the Regulatory Authority might grant a licence if a applicant can demonstrate that it has sufficient infrastructure and resources for the operation of a virtual asset provider or issuer in initial token offerings. The definition of “fit and proper” is provided for in clause 11 (2) consistently with the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Act.
In the Draft, it explains in detail the circumstances where an operating licence can be granted by the regulator to applicants. License holders will be expected to safeguard client assets. They are also expected to “prevent market abuse and provide measures for the acquisition of a beneficial interest in their businesses.”
Mandatory White Paper
The draft says:
“Part IV further provides that a licence holder shall issue a white paper that contains full and accurate information for potential purchasers of virtual assets and initial token offerings to make informed decisions.”
Meanwhile, some crypto enthusiasts have speculated that Botswana’s proposal to amend its financial laws could be linked to the country’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) graylisted countries in October 2021. The FATF had previously cited deficiencies in the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) regimes as reasons for flagging the country.
However, in late 2021 — nearly three years after grey-listing — the FATF said it had removed Botswana from the list after noting some improvement.
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