Thailand moves to block crypto websites to combat online crime

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been directed to compile and submit a list of such platforms to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, which will facilitate the blocking of these platforms following court approval.

The SEC acknowledges the potential impact on users and announced a grace period allowing them time to manage and withdraw their assets from these unauthorized services. “Users of the said platforms are advised to quickly withdraw their assets,” stated the SEC.

The regulatory move is part of a broader strategy to balance the promotion of the crypto ecosystem with fraud prevention measures. Thailand has previously adopted crypto-friendly policies, such as exempting crypto trading gains from the 7% value-added tax and permitting local investment in U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs. However, it has also maintained strict controls, requiring crypto custodians to have contingency plans in place.

“The SEC warns people and investors to be cautious about using unauthorized digital asset operators because they do not receive legal protection, and there is also a risk of fraud and money laundering,” the statement reads.

The regulator accused in February former Zipmex Thailand director and CEO, Ekkalarp Yimwilai with corruption and deception. The SEC’s investigation also highlights discrepancies between the reports submitted by Zipmex Thailand and the information the regulator obtained. Yimwilai, who served as CEO from August 2018 to November 2023, is now facing serious allegations as the SEC has filed a complaint with the Office of the Provincial Crime Suppression Division, urging further legal action.

The blocking initiative mirrors similar actions in India and the Philippines to prevent the misuse of crypto platforms for activities like money laundering. The action also follows legal proceedings initiated by the Thai SEC against major crypto exchanges like Binance and Bybit for operating without proper authorization.

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Earlier this month, Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bitkub saod plans to list in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) as early as 2025. Bitkub’s owner is hiring financial advisers to facilitate its planned initial public offering (IPO) listing. Srupsrisopa said this strategic step would help attract new capital while elevating Bitkub’s market presence.

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