All parties wishing to introduce cryptocurrency in Malaysia must go through Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) first, said Lim Guan Eng. Pic by NSTP/MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA

KUALA LUMPUR: All parties wishing to introduce cryptocurrency in Malaysia must go through Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) first, said Lim Guan Eng.

The Finance Minister said that the government and BNM must be careful with any introduction of cryptocurrencies as such new technologies are still being studied by the financial regulator to ensure the stability of the country’s financial sector.

“There are a few quarters trying to introduce their own (cryptocurrency) mechanism.

“I advise all parties wishing to introduce bitcoin (style) cryptocurrency to refer first to Bank Negara Malaysia as it is the authority that will issue the decision on financial mechanism.

“It is not that we wish to obstruct (cryptocurrency) as we are keeping an open-mind. But it is still subject to existing laws.

“Do not try to do something without guidelines from Bank Negara and commit something against the law,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Lim was answering a supplementary question from Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew (PH-Wangsa Maju) on whether the government would setup a body to oversee cryptocurrency and prevent it from interfering with the normal functioning of Malaysia’s official currency.

On Nov 13, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad said that the paperwork and presentation on the government-backed cryptocurrency, Harapan Coin, has been prepared and will soon be presented to BNM and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It was reported that the Harapan Coin, is set to be the world’s first political fundraising platform using the two technologies.

He said although the decision and approval from BNM and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Presidential Council may take a while, he is however determined to continue proposing the project.

The proposal has since attracted controversy from multiple quarters, with civil society group Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) reported by an online news portal as questioning the government for being “overly eager” to implement “trendy but untested schemes.”

Earlier at the Dewan Rakyat, Lim said that findings from a study by the Global Financial Integrity placed Malaysia at the 10th rung among developing countries for its US$444.6 billion in illicit monetary outflow from 2005 to 2014.

He said the main method of this illicit monetary outflow is income tax evasion, customs tax and duty evasion, smuggling of forbidden goods, illegal outflow of cash, and abuse of subsidies on goods.

He said that this funding could jeopardise public perception on anti-graft efforts in Malaysia.

“As of September 2018, based on enforcement action by BNM, 62 cases resulted in convictions, 30 cases still in trial stage, and 37 cases under investigation.

“Aside from that, around 15 civil court orders have been issued against offenders offering unlicensed financial services to halt (their) illegal activities,” Lim said.

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