Philippines Senator Demands Harsher Penalties for Crypto Crimes

Philippines opposition minister has proposed a harsher penalty where crime involving cryptocurrency is punishable with one degree of higher than the traditional RPC.

Philippines opposition senator wants a harsher penalty imposed against those committing cryptocurrency crimes. He proposed, to that effect, the Senate Bill 1694, filed last month and wants fellow legislators to expedite passage into law.

The country is already battling a number of cryptocurrency-related crime situations. Additionally, the call to fellow legislators to pass the bill soon is activated by the recent happenings relating to cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme.

The national police PNP arrested a couple Arnel and Leonady Ordonio. Thus, in relation to an over $19 million bitcoin scam in the country. The two were the registered owners of NewG Bitcoin Trading and they convinced people to invest money into the scheme with a promise of guaranteed huge returns within two weeks. Some investors said they could no longer contact the suspects who then said they could no longer pay their investors.

CIDG chief Director Roel B. Obusan told Arab News earlier this month that no investment could give such huge returns. He said it was a large scale scam because many people were involving and were reporting the case.

Scammers taking advantage

Further, authorities have warned that the cryptocurrency investments have some risks related to them. Stephen Cutler, a former US FBI anti-money laundering. And financial crime expert said scammers were taking advantage of  Philippines, did not understand cryptocurrencies. He complained people are not taking time to invest in it before investing thus falling into cheap claims of quick riches.

Himself facing trial for profiting from the illegal narcotics trade, the senator wants the bill to redefine the Republic Act No. 3815 or the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Crimes related to cryptocurrencies will be penalized one degree higher than the traditional RPC.

“No matter how small or big a group, a punishment must give. It should never be easy to escape after stealing the hard earned money of other people”, de Lima said.

According to RPC, offenders should give punishment to life imprisonment to death. If the crime involves five or more people in “syndicated estafa and other forms of swindling”. However, the proposal by the senator will see the requirement in the guideline. Since to reduce the number of individuals involved to two or more people.

Additionally, Sen. Sonny Angara said there is need to improve financial literacy in the country.

Although the country already regulates crypto exchanges, regulation is lax in regard to crypto trading. In December, the Philippine central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said it was planning to create regulatory standards for digital assets like Bitcoin.

The bank said it was working with Securities Exchange Commission to create regulatory guidelines for cryptocurrency businesses and exchanges.

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