Even with the Pakistani masses bubbling with excitement over the latest talk of town – Bitcoin, the country’s media officials as well as the government don’t seem to be taking things with the same prerogative. Dawn, is a widely circulated website and periodical published in the Pakistani subsoil owned by Pakistan Herald Publications Limited. Hameed Haroon, the CEO of the owner company hails from a highly influential Pakistani family and is a noted regional journalist.
A recent article published under Haroon’s flagship and reprinted on a global scale created ripples with the headline, “FBR goes after bitcoin traders.” Federal Bureau of Revenue is the principal tax collection agency in Pakistan. The piece indicated that, “The top intelligence department, is investigating cases where investors trade digital currencies probably to evade taxes or launder money.” A hyperlink was inserted into the site’s own bitcoin coverage which crossed the 1000 USD mark during early 2017. However no reference was drawn to FBR or any probable cases of investigation.
The article published also highlighted points like, “A senior tax official said people evade tax and launder money using cryptocurrencies. They buy bitcoin to launder their tax-evaded money […], adding that they park their black money out of Pakistan in many cases.” The piece published in Dawn, listed a bevy of investigators and agencies who are on the lookout of Bitcoin traders who would dare to cross the line.
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Faisal Khan, a financial technology scout serving venture capitalists and payment consultant operating in Turkey expressed his bafflement by siting, “I’ve searched […], trying to find any circular &/or notification, gazette, SRO, press release, etc. related to Bitcoin &/or Cryptocurrency – but I could not find it.”
He also added, “For bitcoin to be considered for money-laundering, it has to be defined into an asset class whereby [bitcoin] has been declared [money] or some form of an asset as per ‘some’ legal definition in some law in Pakistan.” He concluded by saying, “Right now, the Government of Pakistan in no way recognizes [bitcoin] as legal tender or legal ‘anything.’ It has no legal standing under any law in Pakistan.”
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