The FCA on Regulating Cryptocurrencies
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently confirmed that firms that deal in cryptocurrency derivatives need to be duly authorised and regulated. This statement precedes a review of the cryptocurrency market due later this year, which was announced in the FCA’s Business Plan for 2018/2019. The review is a joint effort between the FCA, the Bank of England and the Treasury.
A cryptocurrency is defined as ‘a digital currency produced by a public network, rather than any government, that uses cryptography [codes which keep information safe in computer networks] to make sure payments are sent and received safely’. The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, and it is still the biggest, though other, ever more obscure-sounding ones have sprung up – such as Litecoin and Dogecoin.
Cryptocurrencies have grown in importance for both markets and regulators in recent years. The anxiety is justified, as the trading of cryptocurrencies constitutes a new and relatively unregulated market. The (now former) New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, announced that his office has launched the Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative, a fact-finding inquiry into the policies and practices of platforms used by consumers to trade cryptocurrencies. The inquiry springs from concerns about the transparency and accountability of such trading – these are serious issues, given that the Bitcoin market reached $118bn at the start of April.
In the UK, neither the Bank of England nor the FCA regulates the trade in cryptocurrencies as such. However, in 2017 the FCA issued consumer warnings on cryptocurrency Contracts for Difference (CFDs) and the risks of Initial Coin Offerings(ICOs), where the issuer accepts a cryptocurrency in exchange for a proprietary ‘coin’ or ‘token’ related to a specific firm or project. The FCA warned that the value of cryptocurrency CFDs is extremely volatile and suffers from a lack of transparency, while ICOs are not FCA regulated and provide no investor protection in the UK. Moreover, the FCA held that trading in financial instruments with cryptocurrencies as the underlying assets – for example cryptocurrency futures, CFDs and options – is likely to require regulatory authorisation.
Draft Finance Bill 2020–21—promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, shares her insights on the Draft Finance Bill 2020–21 and its impact on promoters and enablers of tax avoidance schemes.
Apple and Ireland Win €13bn State Aid Appeal
The General Court of the European Union has today annulled the Commission’s decision regarding two Irish tax rulings in favour of Apple. The Commission had considered that the two rulings constituted State Aid, granting Apple €13bn in unlawful tax advantages.
The Price of Property
Helen McGhee looks at the present state of UK tax rules that must be considered when owning and disposing of UK property.
Inheritance tax problems in Finance Bill 2020
The rules on excluded property trusts are due to change with effect from royal assent. These changes are complex, and the new rules can have an unexpected and retroactive effect. Emma Chamberlain explores these rules to determine whether it may be necessary to exclude the settlor going forward as a beneficiary.
Trust Registration Service- 5MLD update
HMRC’s Trusts and Registration Service (TRS) was born back in 2017 as part of the implementation of 4MLD. 5MLD has mandated notable amendments to the operation of the TRS that clients and practitioners should not overlook. We have created a Q&A to help to navigate the new upcoming compliance obligations.