Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens has spoken in favour of a new legislation that would strengthen governmental control over bitcoin and other digital currencies.
According to Geens, virtual money should be subject to strict rules as their popularity among cybercriminals, scammers and terrorist groups is growing. Moreover, Geens suggests to oblige cryptocurrency companies to cooperate with the court, the Belgian newspaper De Tijd reports.
“Crime develops with the new technology. And legislation should do it as well,” Geens said.
According to the official, the Belgian Ministry of Justice in cooperation with experts from the Central Office for Seizure and Confiscation (COSC) and the Board of Procurators General is currently working on procedural solutions to deal with seized digital assets.
The initiative is supported by the country’s tax authorities. According to Dirk Dierickx, the leading specialist in electronic audit at the Belgium tax office, in the near term, cryptocurrencies will gain more popularity:
“Our research reveals that more Belgians consider virtual currencies as an alternative to bank saving accounts, which offer them nothing in return.”
The research shows there are three main groups of cryptocurrency users. The first is world reformers and cryptogeeks who do not want to support the current banking system after the financial crisis they have suffered. The second is customers in the countries where capital flow regulations are too tight. The third is scammers and criminals. Dierickx quotes the evidence from his Dutch colleagues of the increasing use of cryptocurrencies among terrorists.
So far, there have been two cases of bitcoin seizure in Belgium, both related to drug trafficking. The total amount of confiscated funds is 1,050 BTC. Yet, Belgian authorities do not have a legal procedure to sell these digital assets.
“All our anti-abuse legislation is based on the liability of an intermediary in the financial sector and networks that we are familiar with, like banks. The legislation provides nothing about the virtual sector because it was not there at the time the legislation was written. It is necessary to change the law so that we could deal with abuse of bitcoins,” Koen Geens explained to VRT News channel.