Confusion builds up over cryptocurrencies
The Bangladesh Bank has said holding or trading cryptocurrencies cannot be considered a crime although virtual coins are illegal under the laws of the country.
It came up with the observation in a letter to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police on May 18.
The amount of cryptocurrency in the global market now stands at around $2 trillion, the letter said.
Cryptocurrencies initially did not take approval from any country, but central banks of some nations such as Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have officially recognised them in recent times, it said.
Cryptocurrencies are a form of digital asset based on a network that is distributed across a large number of computers.
This decentralised structure allows them to exist outside the control of governments and central authorities.
The Bangladesh Bank, however, is yet to give any approval to hold or transact cryptocurrencies, the letter said.
In December 2017, the central bank warned people not to trade virtual currencies.
There have been both legal and financial risks for the use of cryptocurrencies. So, it has put up a notice on its website to warn people, the letter said.
The BB website is still asking people to deter from transacting and holding cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin.
The BB is yet to draw up any guidelines on the use of cryptocurrencies.
If cryptocurrencies are traded, there will be a risk to perpetrate crimes under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947, the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012, and the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009.
If required, the police can investigate, the central bank said.
Some top officials of commercial banks said that the letter had created a state of confusion about whether cryptocurrencies were legal or illegal in Bangladesh.
"The central bank should take a clear stance to this end immediately, or else it will create an ambiguity among commoners," said a senior banker.
Contacted, Md Serajul Islam, a spokesperson of the BB, said that there had been no confusion over cryptocurrencies as their use had been explicitly illegal under the laws of Bangladesh.
He, however, declined to comment on the central bank letter to the CID.
The intelligence agency has recently lodged several cases on the allegation of the use of cryptocurrencies.
An official of the CID said since they were investigating two cases filed in connection with cryptocurrencies, it sought suggestions from the BB regarding the offences.
Yesterday, Humayun Kabir, special superintendent of the Financial Crime Unit of the CID, however, said the agency was yet to receive any such letter from the central bank.
While looking into cases related to financial crimes, investigation officers seek suggestions from the central bank, he said.
Kabir, however, could not immediately confirm whether any of their officers wrote to the BB.