Philippine Senate Bill Would Increase Penalty For Crimes Involving Cryptocurrency

A bill in the Senate of the Philippines would increase the penalty for crimes that involve virtual currency.

  • Leila M. de Lima, an opposition Senator in the Philippines, has submitted a bill that would increase the penalty for “crimes involving cryptocurrencies, notably bitcoins.” Her motive in filing the legislation, she said, was to address the fact that virtual currency’s “anonymous or pseudonymous character” inhibits efforts by law enforcement to trace its ownership.

    SB1694 was announced in a March 13 press release, which relates that if the bill passes, crimes committed “through and with the use of virtual currency, will have a penalty that is one degree higher than what is provided for” by the Revised Penal Code.

    The proposed law would also adjust penalties according to the value of the cryptocurrency involved in a transgression, which would be determined based on a token’s exchange rate with the Philippine peso at the time that the criminal act took place. Additionally, the legislation calls for the confiscation of any cryptocurrency used in the commission of a crime, unless the digital assets in question belong to “another person not liable for the unlawful act.”

    According to the press release, cryptocurrencies might figure into cases of financial fraud in which “individuals entice unsuspecting people to purchase fake bitcoins,” the purchase of child pornography, the bribing of public officials, money laundering, and terrorist financing.

    In November 2017, the commissioner of the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission indicated that the agency was weighing whether to classify digital assets issued in ICOs as securities. By the following January, it had apparently decided in the affirmative.

    The country’s central bank has granted licenses to several cryptocurrency exchanges. 

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