MPs clash over PLP’s digital currency effort
David Burt, the Premier, said that his government would provide the jobs promised by the One Bermuda Alliance administration.
Mr Burt said: “We will not be distracted, we will continue to meet these investors, we will continue to provide hope and opportunity to give the people the jobs that they promised and that this government will deliver.”
The comment came after accusations that the Government had been “way too cosy” with purveyors of digital currency.
Opposition MP Michael Dunkley also told the House of Assembly that the Government’s first agreements in the emerging new industry failed “the initial test of scrutiny”.
Mr Dunkley’s remarks came after a week in which Mr Burt signed memorandums of understanding with Binance Group and Medici Ventures.
It followed an agreement with Gabriel Abed, founder of BITT as well as Digital Asset Fund, to advise the Government on digital assets and blockchain technology — and came one week after legislators approved a Bill for an initial coin offering.
Mr Dunkley said that while he shared scepticism, “we should work on this opportunity — and be real about it, without promising the world”. He pointed out that Binance Group, which pledged to place its global compliance base in Bermuda, “appear to be seeking any place to do business which will welcome on their terms”, saying the company came with “a questionable record of wanting a sound regulatory environment”.
Mr Dunkley said a conflict of interest loomed, with the company collaborating with the Government to develop regulations. Mr Abed has pledged to work with Bermuda regulators at no cost to the taxpayer, but the former premier said that “nothing in life is free”.
Calling for more information, the One Bermuda Alliance MP and former premier said that “hype has outpaced substantive, sober discussion”.
It followed questions from Cole Simons of the OBA, who raised legal issues reported internationally that had been faced by Binance in other jurisdictions.
The Premier responded that there were “no countries in the world” with laws on cryptocurrency. “We are going to position Bermuda to become the first,” Mr Burt said, telling Mr Simons he was asking questions that the media had already posed on law suits, that Binance had dealt with.
The venture capital firm Sequoia brought a suit against Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng last month. Questioned on the legal action last week, when he signed the agreement with Mr Burt, Zhao told local media that the suit had been quashed.
Mr Dunkley’s remarks drew a scathing rebuttal from Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security who championed the effort to bring of blockchain technology. Mr Caines noted that the Government’s consultation had included a meeting with the Opposition in which Mr Dunkley “said nothing”.
He accused Mr Dunkley of sniping from social media and trying to “unravel, undermine and undercut” the Government’s efforts to develop the new industry.
Mr Caines added: “It’s very easy to upset the apple cart — but guess what you’re doing now? You’re affecting Bermuda, incorporated. No one is scared of the question, of the accountability. We’re saying that when you have the opportunity to do so, do it. Don’t hide behind Twitter and don’t hide behind this House.”
Progressive Labour Party MP Zane DeSilva suggested the Opposition were incompetent, adding that he “could not believe my ears” when Mr Dunkley queried the soundness of the deal.
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