French legislators appoint new head for finance watchdog

Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani has been given the green light to take control of France’s Financial Markets Authority (AMF) by the country’s parliamentarians after an easy 55-28 vote in her favor.

Barbat-Layani succeeds Robert Ophele, the former head of the AMF, who recently completed a non-renewable five-year term. President Emmanuel Macron appointed the new chair of the finance watchdog at the tail end of September, but the appointment was subject to ratification by the French parliament.

Presently, Barbat-Layani serves as the Secretary-General at the Finance Ministry, and the new appointment will make her the first female to head the AMF. Ahead of her assumption of the role, she fired off a series of warning shots to digital asset service providers in a speech to lawmakers that issued licenses can be revoked when there is a breach of guiding rules.

The AMF is in charge of issuing licenses to firms keen on operating in the digital currency industry and has been authorized to regulate the burgeoning sector. Recently, there has been a spike in the number of firms to have gained regulatory approval to operate in the sector, but Barbat-Layani warns that it is not a permanent license and can be withdrawn.

Bykep, a digital asset exchange operating in France, saw its license revoked by the AMF for “serious failings” in compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) rules in what has been described as a first for the regulator.

“Seeing your registration withdrawn has the effect of reverse advertising, which was one of the things that the AMF sought in terms of communication,” said Barbat-Layani, about the Bykep debacle.

The appointment of Barbat-Layani as the head of the AMF has some silver lining for the industry, as she has been a staunch supporter of decentralized ledger technology (DLT) and virtual currencies. She referred to the move as being a risk that has been justified seeing the myriad benefits of virtual currencies in the economy.

France is wholly in support of digital assets

France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, in an interview with BFM TV, noted the country was on the right path to becoming a digital asset paradise following a combination of lax regulations. Le Maire noted that the country would revamp the issue of taxation of the asset class by creating a distinction between stocks.

“We want to use the year 2023 to deepen our reflection with stakeholders in order to identify if new adaptations to tax legislation are necessary,” noted Le Maire. “A straightforward alignment with the taxation of stocks is not necessarily a desirable goal.”

Le Maire added that the government would not relent after industry giants like Binance and Crypto.com set up operations in the country and will be keen on attracting more brands to the country.

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