Lagarde of the European Central Bank calls for regulation of “ funny businesses ” for bitcoin

Lagarde cites criminal investigations into illegal activity involving Bitcoin without going into detail. (Reuters photo)

FRANKFURT: Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, on Wednesday called for a global regulation of bitcoin, saying that the digital currency has been used in money laundering activities in some cases, and that any loopholes should be closed.

Bitcoin has fallen out of place in recent years and is now being bought by private people, mutual funds, and even large companies.

Some even took out loans to buy more cryptocurrency, which has increased in value nearly tenfold since last March.

But its largely anonymous nature has raised concerns that it could be used for money laundering and other illegal activities.

“(Bitcoin) is a highly speculative asset,” Lagarde said in an interview at the upcoming Reuters conference. “He has done some funny business and some reprehensible money laundering activities.”

Lagarde did not provide specific examples of money laundering cases but said she understood there had been criminal investigations into illegal activity. It did not elaborate.

The cryptocurrency sector remains mostly lightly supervised or unregulated, despite the emergence of global standards in areas such as anti-money laundering.

She joined a number of regulators from around the world in calling for implementation of the global rules for cryptocurrencies.

“There has to be regulation. This has to be applied and agreed upon … at the global level because if there is an escape then that escape will be used,” Lagarde said.

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