Austrian Regulator Calls for Stricter Crypto and ICO Laws


Austria’s top financial regulator, the Financial Market Authority (FMA), proposed stricter regulations on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Citing FMA board directors Klaus Kumpfmüller and Helmut Ettl, a report published in Austrian newspaper Die Presse on June 29 revealed that the FMA has taken a more stringent position on cryptocurrencies and ICOs, vowing that they "will be treated like securities in the future.”

Ettl suggested bringing cryptocurrency trading and ICO activity under the same legal purview as activities related to trading foreign currency, for which companies need to obtain a mini-bank license. The FMA submitted around 30 suspected legal violations to the public prosecutor's office in connection with cryptocurrencies and ICOs last year.

Kumpfmüller proposed a two million euro "threshold-dependent" prospectus requirement for ICOs, a requirement that would be similar to that imposed on securities. In addition,  Kumpfmüller also suggested imposing a concession obligation for distributors of cryptocurrencies, forcing them to pay a fee to the government for operating rights.

Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Löger called for tighter rules in the crypto sector in February, and for early regulation at the European level. The new Austrian approach to ICOs reflects legal trends from the United States. US Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton reaffirmed his position on ICOs on June 14, saying that “much of what I have seen in the ICO or token or ICO space, is a security offering.”

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