By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

The head of the world’s third largest cryptocurrency exchange yesterday hailed The Bahamas for establishing the “world’s first comprehensive” regulatory regime for the sector.

Speaking at the official launch of its Bahamian operation, Samuel Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive of FTX Capital Markets, told Tribune Business it was “impressive” to be headquartered in this nation as opposed to the group’s former base in Hong Kong.

He said the ability of Bahamian regulators and the Government to work with FTX and other businesses in keeping the cryptocurrency space “compliant and regulated”, while at the same time being welcoming to business, was critical to moving the group’s headquarters to The Bahamas.

Christina Rolle, the Securities Commission’s executive director, described FTX Capital Markets as a company that wants to “leave a real footprint” in The Bahamas by “giving back in terms of its involvement in the community”.

FTX Capital Markets has worked with Kanoo on the roll-out of its school assistance programme and made several real estate investments around New Providence, its communications and corporate social responsibility vice-president, Valdez Russell, said yesterday.

Ms Rolle, meanwhile, added: “FTX purport themselves to be the third largest exchange in the world. Obviously the Securities Commission has been working on DARE (the Digital Assets and Registered Exchanges Act) for almost two years before it was passed, and to have the legislation validated in this way is good.

“I think it’s definitely a vote of confidence that we went in the right direction with the legislation. We have some more applications in the pipeline and we know there are a number of lawyers in the jurisdiction who are working on applications to send in our direction. So certainly we see some pipeline business coming our way.”

Mr Bankman-Fried added: “This has been a huge, positive sign for us and we think a really good omen of things to come here.” To prevent crypto-related fraud, he said: “There have been a lot of tools we have been using for a long time. It’s incumbent upon us and the other big players in the business, as well as the regulators, to make sure that the space remains safe for all of the users.

“We have a ton of tools that we use for that, including AML/KYC (anti-money laundering/Know Your Customer) checks, market manipulation checks and screenings, and we have a ton that we’re rolling out every day. It’s absolutely crucial for the space to be able to grow in a safe way.

“There are a ton of really exciting things that we have planned over the next years to help grow sustainable and efficient markets, and to help give access to the financial system to those who haven’t had it before.”

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