- Estonia’s new anti-money laundering chief has called for all remaining crypto licenses to be scrapped
- The controversial licenses were first issued in 2017 but have been linked to criminal activity
- Matis Mäeker says billions of euros is leaving the country thanks to the licenses
The head of Estonia’s new anti-money laundering government agency has said that the country’s controversial cryptocurrency regulations should be scrapped. Matis Mäeker, who was appointed to the role in May, told local news outlet Eesti Ekspress that the licensing process, which was implemented in 2017, is not fit for purpose. He advised that all existing licenses should be scrapped and businesses made to apply for them again with stricter criteria.
Mäeker Wants Remaining Licenses Scrapped
Estonia had considered itself one of the world’s ‘blockchain hubs’ alongside Malta and Zug in Switzerland, offering a place for crypto entrepreneurs to develop projects free from heavy oversight. However, Mäeker believes that this approach has cost the country, saying that crypto companies have made “tens of billions of euros per year”, most of which has been sent abroad and hasn’t benefited the Estonian economy:
Their only goal is to get an Estonian license and use it to turn over very large sums, while Estonia gets nothing out of it.
Mäeker added that all existing crypto licenses should be revoked, which would have been a more arduous task had Estonia’s Financial Intelligence Unit not revoked 1,808 cryptocurrency licenses last year following an investigation into the efficacy of the system, leaving just 400 companies with cryptocurrency licenses remaining in Estonia.
Estonia Crypto License Fee Could be Raised
As well as starting from a blank sheet, Mäeker’s proposals include raising the minimum capital requirements from €12,000 ($14,000) to €350,000 ($400,000), with the AML head planning to introduce a bill in the Estonian parliament. As well as the loss to the economy there have long been fears that the Estonian cryptocurrency licensing system and e-residence program have been abused by criminals, especially after billions of dollars’ worth of illicit cash was found to have been laundered through the local branch of Danske Bank A/S.