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The Chairman of the G20 - money laundering and crypto-assets.

Open Letter to ( CEO ): 
Mr Shinzō Abe
Open Letter to ( Company ): 
G20 Group of Nations
Osaka, Japan
Nigel Morris-Cotterill

Dear Mr Abe

This month, the G20 will meet for a "money laundering and crypto-discussion." You will hear from many so-called experts. They will form a mutual appreciation society which spends its time saying how complicated the subject is, how it can undermine economies, how it has the capacity to undermine governments and society.

This is all true. It is also self-evident. It does not require a meeting of senior civil servants at the taxpayer's expense to conclude what is common sense as well as common knowledge. But that's not the real reason I am writing to you.

Full Details: 

The real reason I am writing to you is that amongst the areas under consideration are the use of crypto-currencies and crypto assets in financial crime.

We know what will happen at your meeting: a sledgehammer will be taken to break an essentially simple subject into many pieces each of which will form the purpose of many examples of micro-regulation thereby keeping many, many beaurocrats in work for years to come while adding massively to the cost and regulatory burden on a wide range of businesses both within the financial sector and without. This gravy train needs to be stopped. To stop it is easy. All they have to do is resolve as follows:

1. All media of exchange and crypto-assets are to be regarded as "money" for the purposes of financial crime legislation and regulation and any and all fiscal purposes.

2. Every medium of exchange is to be regarded, for all purposes, as currency for the purposes of exchange between itself and any and all other media of exchange

3. A crypto-asset is an asset that exists in purely electronic form even if evidenced in physical form.

It's simple so ordinary people can understand it.

It's quick and very, very cheap to legislate and implement and to enforce.

It's so unequivocal that no amount of twisting and turning by accountants, lawyers, fiat or crypto-bankers can claim to be outside it. And if someone tries, the Courts will find it impossible to disagree with its brutal clarity.

Of course, the rooms full of people whose primary reason is to meet and discuss will agree to meet again so that they can agree to meet again; they will send documents and memos and discussion papers around in virtual meetings, they will spend perhaps two years coming to a conclusion which they will distribute in the form of a white paper; they will draft something which is like but is not quite law, possibly calling them "recommendations." which they will revise, annually, at a meeting of the various working groups that they create because they consider that to be an essential step in any form of regulatory discussion. They will travel extensively to inspect and learn.

They really do not need to. They need to take a wider view, far removed from micro-regulation and prescription. Then countries need to legislate, implement and enforce it. Then, instead of spending money, countries can start earning from fines and/or penalties, to reduce not increase the spending of taxpayers' money or increased national debt which, if anyone is honest, is really the same thing but an exponentially worse version of spending the taxpayer's money as it is collected.

Only one issue would remain: should countries accept crypto-currencies as payment for taxes, fees, etc.? Even that has already been considered: if countries accept payment in foreign fiat currencies, then there is no reason not to accept virtual and crypto-currencies, bearing in mind the currency exchange risk that is already present in their system. That is a domestic issue and does not require the involvement of a supra-national body.

The world needs less and simpler law and regulation: the situation in relation to money laundering and terrorist financing has long been out of control with such detailed requirements set out that people have stopped thinking for themselves. A better use of the G20's time would be to discuss how to roll-back excessively codified law and leave the Courts to decide on whether conduct, a thing or even a non-thing like crypto-assets are covered which has the enormous benefit of re-introducing intellectual activity into how transactions are viewed: to see the shades of grey not a simple binary choice.

I ask in all the humility I can muster, which to be fair isn't much, that you think long and hard about what I have said in this letter and direct those who are setting up another trough from which they will drink for years to come to find something better to do.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Morris-Cotterill