The joint statement was first penned on May 11 by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) and the General-Commissariat of National Police, and has now been publicly released on the NBC website:
“Competent authorities clarify that the propagation, circulation, buying, selling, trading and settlement of Crypto Currencies [sic] without obtaining license from competent authorities are illegal activities.”
The statement refers to specific cryptocurrencies such as “KH Coin, Suncoin, K Coin, One-coin, Forex coin,” declaring that they pose a potential risk to the public and “society as a whole.” OneCoin, as CryptoNewspeople reported earlier this year, has faced long-standing and widespread allegations of being a Ponzi-scheme.
The authorities specify these risks as including the fact that cryptocurrencies’ issuance is “not backed by collateral,” vulnerability to cybercrime, price volatility, and a lack of investor protection mechanisms that results from the pseudonymous nature of crypto transactions.
The authorities further raise concern over the potential facilitation of money laundering and terrorism financing, which they likewise attribute to pseudonymity.
The statement appeals to the public to be “cautious” of dealing with cryptocurrencies without duly obtaining a license, stating that unlicensed activities will be subject to penalties “in accordance with applicable laws.”
As local newspaper The Phnom Penh Post reported earlier this year, the NBC issued a directive in December 2017 banning all domestic “banks and microfinance institutions” from trading or advertising cryptocurrencies. The Post report highlighted that regulatory clarity had not yet been forthcoming from the country’s authorities at the time of writing, with cryptocurrencies remaining in a “gray area” between the SECC and NBC’s jurisdictions.
This March, a press release from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Blockchain Summit suggested that Cambodia may however prove more amenable to the idea of a nationally issued digital currency.
The press release suggested that the Cambodian government was investigating a crypto project dubbed Entapay, which it compared directly with Venezuela’s centrally-issued Petro.