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India Proposes Jail Term Up to 10 Years for Those Who Mine, Hold, Sell Crypto

TL;DR: Bloomberg Quint (paywall) is reporting, “India has proposed a jail term of one to 10 years for those who mine, hold or sell cryptocurrencies.” Its government has had a long, uneasy relationship with decentralized digital currencies since their inception, and many Indians have been waiting for regulatory clarity from the Supreme Court on the issue. Still others believe the latest take from the foreign press is poorly sourced clickbait, designed to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). 

India Proposes Crypto Jail Term Up to 10 years

The proposed Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019, is aimed at those who “mine, generate, hold, sell, transfer, dispose, issue or deal in cryptocurrencies directly or indirectly,” according to a report claiming to be exclusive.

Nikunj Ohri

Allegedly, the country’s Economic Affairs and Finance Secretary, Subhash Chandra Garg, former Executive Director of the World Bank, along with members of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), have drafted the proposed legislation which appears to impose strict sentences on cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

“If any conduct is punishable under any other law, this Act will be in addition to, and not in derogation of such law,” the legislation notes. Reports are also circulating about how the bill is really meant to protect a so-called “Digital Rupee” … to be administered at some point by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

FUD or Real?

On a visceral level, none of the claims seem to be out of line with prior Indian government statements or actions. However, those closer to the situation and more inclined to be pro-cryptocurrency in their outlook are calling foul.

Nikunj Ohri

Twitter personality Shalini (Indian CryptoGirl) was having exactly none of the latest revelations. “Analysis of the Paid Bloomberg Article reporting ’10 years Jail for Crypto investors,'” she posted the same day. “1. No source; 2. Clickbait article that’s kept Paid;
3. Even if it is true, it’s only a suggestion to govt, not official notice; I refuse to share the article link as it isn’t worth promoting.”

Self-proclaimed “Blockchain Lawyer,” Varun Sethi, posted documentation he believed casts doubt on the Bloomberg story, essentially insisting the entire premise is based on an article from late April, and that the RBI claimed “it has no communication regarding this bill!” The report’s author, Nikunj Ohri, has revealed images of the legislation, at least confirming its existence which Sethi doubted. The argument now seems to be shifting as to exactly what the language’s meaning is rather than the story’s veracity. Updates to follow.

DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH. 

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