Estonia’s Crypto Legislation Results in 80% Decrease in Registered Enterprises

The implementation of Estonia’s controversial crypto legislation has led to a significant reduction in the number of registered enterprises, according to a report released on Monday by the country’s money-laundering agency.

The report revealed that the number of registered enterprises in Estonia has decreased by approximately 80%, with over 200 licenses being revoked by the enterprises themselves and a similar number being denied by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is responsible for enforcing the new rule that requires corporations to maintain substantial cash reserves and actual ties to Estonia.

The FIU’s study also indicated that the validity of 389 authorizations has expired, leaving only 100 current authorizations for virtual asset service providers. The Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Prevention Act, which became effective on March 15, 2022, is a controversial law that has raised concerns among crypto industry players.

According to the applications submitted by some of the affected firms, individuals were appointed to management boards without their knowledge or with fraudulent qualifications, while documentation was often similar amongst multiple corporations. The FIU has strengthened its money laundering regulations and made it mandatory for cryptocurrency enterprises to reapply for licensing in an effort to rebuild the nation’s image. The regulator reported seeing instances that would startle any supervisor while renewing authorizations.

Estonia, home to digital unicorns such as Wise, Bolt, and Skype, has also been working to rehabilitate its image following a scandal involving the laundering of Russian cash via the Tallinn branch of Danske Bank. As a member of the European Union, Estonia will soon be required to apply the bloc’s Markets in Crypto Assets law, which will require the licensing of wallet providers and exchanges.

The report indicated that the legislator’s response with regard to the amendments to the Act, as well as the supervision activities both before and after the amendments, have been relevant. Matis Mäeker, Director of the FIU, confirmed this.

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