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SHC seeks FIA reply on petition against ban on cryptocurrencies

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials on a petition against a ban on the use of digital currencies in the country.

A bench of the Sindh high court directed the authorities to assist it in understanding cryptocurrencies.

State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi, the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and FIA officials are among those cited as respondents in the petition.

The petition states that the State Bank imposed a ban on the use of digital currencies on April 6, 2018. It says developing countries are earning a significant revenue from the cryptocurrencies which doesn’t pose any threat to national interests.

The central bank had earlier banned cryptocurrencies in the country, saying virtual currencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, Pakcoin, OneCoin, DasCoin, Pay Diamond or Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) tokens are not legal tender, issued or guaranteed by the Pakistan government.

“The SBP has not authorised or licensed any individual or entity for the issuance, sale, purchase, exchange or investment in any such virtual currencies/coins/tokens in Pakistan,” it said in the statement.

“All banks, development financial institutions, microfinance banks and payment system operators, payment service providers are advised to refrain from processing, using, trading, holding, transferring value, promoting and investing in virtual currencies/tokens.

“Further, they will not facilitate their customers/account holders to transact in VCs/ICO Tokens. Any transaction in this regard shall immediately be reported to the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) as a suspicious transaction,” added the SBP in the statement.

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