TEAM UNITY GOVERNMENT MOVING ST. KITTS-NEVIS FURTHER INTO MODERNITY WITH PASSING OF VIRTUAL ASSETS BILL, 2020

Photo: Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris in the National Assembly.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, January 23, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Through the passing of the Virtual Assets Bill, 2020 today (Thursday, January 23), the Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris-led Team Unity administration took yet another step towards its long term plan which is to lead St. Kitts and Nevis into modernity and to refurbish its reputation as a responsible member of the international community.

“It is vital at this juncture that we embrace the opportunity to expand our capacities for adaptation to the swiftly changing realities of the technological spheres in which we find ourselves in this 21st Century,” said Prime Minister Harris as he moved the Virtual Assets Bill, 2020 through its second reading in the National Assembly.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) defines ‘virtual asset’ as digital representation of value that can be digitally traded, or transferred, and can be used for payment or investment purposes and does not include digital representations of fiat currency or security. FATF is the policy-making body that sets standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

Prime Minister Harris further stated that hisTeam Unity administration is forward thinking and is setting the stage for further development of the financial services sector here in the Federation “while at the same time ensuring that we put in place an adequate legal and regulatory framework.”

“Our jurisdiction under Team Unity will never seek to stifle innovation by prohibiting participation in virtual assets or the services of virtual asset providers but our efforts will continue to be in part on protecting the consuming public and at the same time ensuring that we meet the onerous standards of the international community,” Dr. Harris added.

The provisions of the Virtual Assets Bill, 2020 introduce an application process for the registration of virtual asset businesses. The Bill also requires that relevant information be provided at the application stage for due diligence to be conducted on the directors and shareholders of each virtual asset service provider to determine whether they can be considered as fit and proper persons to operate such a business in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Prime Minister Harris said this process is necessary to ensure that criminals and their associates do not have control of such entities operating in our jurisdiction.