Estonia revokes 500 crypto firms’ licenses after a $200 billion money laundering scandal.
Madis Reimand, who heads the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), said the clampdown was a pre-emptive move to clean up the crypto-industry. He states that the aim is not to cripple the sector but rather to tighten regulations to deter money laundering threats.
The FIU has shut down companies that have not been able to start operations in the Baltic state within six months of receiving a license.
Remind said “This is a first step in tidying up the market, allowing us to take care of the most urgent issues by permitting operations only for companies that can be subjected to Estonian supervision and coercive measures”.
The moves come after Danske Bank, Denmark ‘s largest lender, was accused of laundering $223 billion of money laundered through a small branch in Estonia. The biggest money-laundering scandal in Europe prompted Estonian authorities to turn their attention to crypto businesses, a market perceived to be high risk.
Estonia has become a sanctuary for virtual-currency companies so far. The nation in north-eastern Europe was among the first on the continent to liberalize crypto in 2017, legalizing more than 1,400 organizations in three years.
Yet regulators have become more proactive in an attempt to reduce foreign money laundering-related threats. The Estonian parliament recently passed a law that makes it difficult to obtain a crypto license.