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Singapore's MAS to regulate ICOs if digital tokens fall under Securities and Futures Act

In an official statement issued today, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has clarified that it will regulate the offer or issue of digital tokens if they constitute products regulated under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA).

The announcement comes on the heels of a recent report from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which it said Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which involve offers and sales of digital assets by virtual organisations using blockchain technology, may be subject to the requirements of the federal securities laws.

The MAS underscored the vulnerability of ICOs to money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) risks due to the anonymous nature of the transactions, and the ease with which large amounts of money may be raised in a short period of time.

Noting the growing popularity of ICOs as a means of raising funds in the country, the MAS pointed out that these digital tokens have “evolved beyond just being a virtual currency” and “may represent ownership or a security interest over an issuer’s assets or property.” Accordingly, some offers may be subject to the SFA while others may not be, it said.

“Where digital tokens fall within the definition of securities in the SFA, issuers of such tokens would be required to lodge and register a prospectus with MAS prior to the offer of such tokens, unless exempted. Issuers or intermediaries of such tokens would also be subject to licensing requirements under the SFA and Financial Advisers Act (Cap. 110), unless exempted, and the applicable requirements on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism,” the MAS stated.

Furthermore, the platforms that facilitate secondary trading of such tokens would also have to be approved or recognised by MAS as an approved exchange or recognised market operator respectively under the SFA.

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