The government in Vilnius has approved amendments introducing more stringent regulations for the country’s growing crypto space. The legislation is aimed at managing risks associated with crypto assets and preventing Russian attempts to circumvent Western sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine.
The new provisions have been prepared by the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Lithuania, the Financial Crime Investigation Service, the Ministry of Interior, and the Lithuanian Money Laundering Prevention Competence Center. Their main purpose is to further regulate the operations of crypto service providers.
Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė was quoted by her department as stating that the rapid growth of the crypto market and the emergence of new products require additional attention from the responsible authorities in managing risks, especially those related to money laundering and terrorist financing threats. She elaborated:
Against this background, we are taking proactive steps to strengthen regulation at national level in preparation for subsequent decisions at EU level.
The draft law, which should be submitted to the Lithuanian parliament during the current session and enforced this year, is expected to introduce more detailed rules for customer identification and impose a ban on the opening of anonymous accounts. It will also increase the authorized capital required from service providers to €125,000.
Only permanent residents of Lithuania will be allowed to manage companies dealing with cryptocurrencies. Lithuanian regulators also want to make sure that these entities do not provide services or operate exclusively in other jurisdictions. The full list of registered operators of crypto exchange and custody platforms will be made public from Feb. 1, 2023.
Lithuania is also updating its regulations in response to the recent events in the region, in particular, the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. “The relevance of the proposals is strengthened by today’s geopolitical environment — we must ensure that no attempt is made to circumvent Western sanctions on Russia by using crypto assets,” Minister Skaistė emphasized.
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