France Blacklists 15 Crypto-Asset Websites

The financial markets regulator says they offer unauthorized atypical investments.

by Marin Marinov
15 March • 4 min
In Regulation

France has blacklisted 15 cryptocurrency and crypto-asset trading platforms, the country’s financial market regulator Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) announced on Thursday. These websites are the first crypto-related companies to be included in the AMF blacklist because they offer unauthorized atypical investments.

The blacklisted platforms have approached directly the French public, without having a registration with AMF, which is obligatory under the French transparency, anti-corruption and economic law, the so-called Sapin II law of 2016.

AMF blacklist

AMF is an independent regulatory body responsible for supervising stock markets. It is authorized for ex-ante (before the activity) control of investment proposals of miscellaneous assets, among others.

a man with a watch on the left hand and holding a smartphone with the right hand

Miscellaneous assets are assets that cannot be classified as capital. AMF considers rare earths, diamonds, wine and crypto-assets miscellaneous. It has been providing a blacklist since July 2017, after an amendment to Sapin II law. The first lists included only diamonds trading platforms, but AMF decided to add other miscellaneous assets in December 2017.

There are “various issues” related to cryptocurrency, including “tax evasion, money laundering or the financing of terrorism,” the AMF President Robert Ophele told French Magazine Challenges in October. 

AMF warning

With the publication of the names of the blacklisted crypto-asset websites, the regulatory body reminds investors to follow its safety guidelines:

• to be careful of miscellaneous assets advertisements;

• to analyse how the price of an advertised product is set and by whom;

• to find the selling terms and timeline of the assets;

• to consider the high risk of high-return investments;

• to invest in products that they understand.

France in the cryptoworld

AMF is in the process of proposing a regulation for initial coin offerings (ICOs). It opened a public consultation in 2017. Most comments agree with the AMF's analysis that if a token issued as part of an ICO presents features similar to those of a financial instrument, the ICO should then be subject to the relevant current regulations, in particular those governing the public offering of financial securities[IPOs]”.

two tall men next to each other in front of European Union`s flag

Robert Ophele (on the left), President of the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) during an official meeting with Valdis Dombrovskis (on the right), Vice-President of the EC in charge of the Euro, Social Dialogue, Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Brussels, January 2018/Image`s source: European Audiovisual Service © European Union, 2018

AMF’s definition is important for ICOs in France because under the Monetary and Financial Code only certain entities are authorised to issue financial securities: state, legal persons, mutual funds, real estate funds, professional real estate funds, specialist financing funds or securitization funds. Many tech startups don`t fit in any of these categories.

In December 2017, Bank of France governor, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, said that Bitcoin (BTC) is “in no way a currency or even a cryptocurrency”.  He warned the public of a high risk of investing in the virtual currency market leader. Analysts believe that the governor wants tighter regulation of cryptocurrencies than this for fiat money.

French and German finance ministers and central bank governors have called for joint G20 action on cryptocurrencies in an open letter to Argentine finance minister last month.

mountains in blue color and big capital letters in front of hills
Argentina`s Presidency of G20, official logo/Image`s source:

“Tokens could pose substantial risks for investors and can be vulnerable to financial crime without appropriate measures. In the longer run, potential risks in the field of financial stability may emerge as well,” wrote the key financial figures from the two leading EU-member states, as quoted by Reuters.

Argentina is the host of a G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors on March 19-20.