Law firm JMW has set up a specialist team to advise individuals and businesses on the use of cryptocurrencies.
The team is part of Manchester-based JMW’s business crime department and is headed by partner Mike Rainford.
JMW is thought to be the first law firm out of London to establish a cryptocurrency investigations and prosecutions team in response to a growing number of inquiries.
Mike said: “Cryptocurrencies facilitate the fast and effective flow of funds, and are expected to have a major impact on global business.
“However, as the uptake of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum and Litecoin grows, so does the risk of money laundering and the potential for failing to adhere to HM Revenue & Customs’ tax regulations and the Financial Conduct Authority’s financial regulations.
“There is likely to be a rise in investigations and prosecutions, and our specialist business crime solicitors are able to provide pragmatic advice and representation to parties which may be subject to these.
“In addition, we are able to help business owners who are concerned about ensuring they are complying with any current or forthcoming regulations around cryptocurrency.”
Mike added: “Given the current relative anonymity of cryptocurrency transactions, they clearly offer new opportunities for criminals to launder money, and they may involve reputable businesses in the process.
“Business owners and staff alike must be vigilant, and avoid being drawn into the laundering of the proceeds of crime.
“There is now greater scrutiny at EU and UK government level, and indeed Britain is updating its anti-money laundering regulations to take account of cryptocurrencies.
“Meanwhile, HM Revenue & Customs has made it clear that payments in cryptocurrencies are subject to the same tax regime as if they were made in fiat currencies. They are not a way to avoid paying tax.
“For example, in cases where businesses accept payment for goods and services in cryptocurrencies, there is no change to what constitutes revenue or how taxable profits are calculated.
“Equally, VAT must be dealt with in the normal way by suppliers of goods or services provided in exchange for digital currency.”
The new team led by Mike includes trainee solicitor Rob Eakins, who is an expert on blockchain technology which creates an online ledger of every transaction made via a cryptocurrency.
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