Economist and Chair of the NatWest Group Sir Howard Davies said he’s “very hostile” towards crypto. So much so he supports China’s recent crackdown, saying the U.K should follow suit.
Last month, Beijing reiterated its calls that cryptocurrencies are used for illegal financial activities. In a coordinated multi-agency action, they seek to shut down all crypto activities within their jurisdiction.
However, banks are never far from dabbling in illegal financial activities themselves. A look at NatWest’s recent history shows it’s far from squeaky clean itself.
Here comes the crypto FUD
Davies didn’t hold back his thoughts on digital assets in discussion with Andrew Hilton, the Director of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI),
When asked about the growing number of Brits who now own crypto, Davies expressed his disapproval by saying “that’s quite a worry.”
What’s more, although he said he doesn’t agree with Beijing on everything, he does support their renewed crackdown on cryptocurrency and mining activity. Adding that the U.K should stop “beating about the bush” and enact similar rules.
“Let’s just ban the damned stuff. Why beat about the bush here.”
On his reasoning for thinking this, Davies said cryptocurrencies are a source of fraud and financial crime. He also said extreme volatility makes them useless as a safe haven commodity.
Davies also saw fit to bring in environmental concerns, calling the energy usage of proof-of-work networks a disaster environmentally.
He closed out by saying crypto investing is a gamble and those who do invest should “abandon hope.”
“It’s gambling as far as I can see, with a sort of libertarian veneer on top of it. You should put a big sign on the door saying, Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Her.”
NatWest is on the hook for money laundering
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched criminal proceedings against NatWest in March.
A statement from the financial watchdog said the bank was being investigated for offenses under Money Laundering Regulations 2007. They allege NatWest failed to adhere to the regulations over a near five-year period from November 11, 2011, to October 19, 2016.
“These regulations require the firm to determine, conduct and demonstrate risk sensitive due diligence and ongoing monitoring of its relationships with its customers for the purposes of preventing money laundering.”
The FCA claims a total of £365 million ($494 million at today’s rate) was paid into customer’s accounts without the appropriate checks on where the money came from.
NatWest responded by saying it takes the prevention of money laundering very seriously and was cooperating with the regulator.
All the same, for Davies to call out crypto on criminality smack of hypocrisy.
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