Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears

Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears
This new digital money is mostly used by the country’s tech-savvy younger population, which is seeking to protect its livelihood against Turkey’s recent economic troubles. (AFP/File)
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Updated 19 April 2021

Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears

Turkey bans crypto assets over illegal transaction fears
  • The much-criticized move against the digital currency will come into effect on April 30

ANKARA: Turkey’s Central Bank has banned the use of crypto assets in payments as part of the country’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies, which have gained huge popularity in recent months.

The government has been closely monitoring cryptocurrencies for some time, alleging that extremists might use them to fund illegal activities or facilitate money laundering.

“Their use in payments may cause irreparable damages for the parties to the transactions, and include elements that may undermine the confidence in methods and instruments used currently in payments,” the bank said.

The new regulation will come into effect by April 30, but the legislation’s announcement lowered the value of Bitcoin by more than 4 percent on Friday.

Besides forbidding crypto  payments for buying goods and services, the regulation also bans transferring money to cryptocurrency platforms via fintech systems. But many investors in Turkey view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a shelter against inflation, with the lira facing a significant devaluation against foreign currencies due to the country’s financial volatility.

The lira has lost about half of its value since the 2018 currency crisis.

Increasing inflation rates, which reached a six-month high last month of 16 percent, as well as official unemployment rates hitting 13.4 percent are making people turn to cryptocurrency to gain money and compensate their losses with stable assets.

The booming business of cryptocurrencies has replaced Turks’ rush for gold and real estate as a hedge against the struggling lira and rising interest rates. This new digital money is mostly used by the country’s tech savvy younger population, which is seeking to protect its livelihood against Turkey’s recent economic troubles.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Turkey bans crypto payments for buying goods and services.

• The regulation also forbids transferring money to cryptocurrency platforms via fintech systems.

• Many investors in Turkey view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a shelter against inflation.

The government’s crypto asset ban drew anger from domestic investors. About 100,000 tweets were sent from Turkey-based social media accounts in one day criticizing the legislation.

The country’s main opposition Peoples’ Republican Party (CHP) also criticized the government’s midnight move against cryptocurrency use. 

“Rather than issuing a midnight legislation, you should have decided on such sensitive issues after consulting all relevant parties,” CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said.

Regulation in the field of cryptocurrencies was not a new debate for Turkey, where the government expected to achieve some political goals from blockchain technology, according to Dr. Mehmet Bedii Kaya, an expert of IT law at Istanbul Bilgi University.

The government, in line with its 11th Development Plan, was set to implement a digital central bank based on blockchain technologies.

“On the other hand, there is a significant number of Turkish citizens who use cryptocurrencies for short and long-term gains,” Kaya told Arab News. “I think that this latest regulation has been prepared with a quick reflex, without considering the potential financial losses it might generate with the wave of resulting misinformation.”

Kaya said that payment institutions were already under the close supervision of the Central Bank. “These fintech institutions, which are active in the cryptocurrency market, are very innovative and dynamic. Therefore the Turkish state considered this dynamism as a risk and source of complexity. However, these key players shouldn’t have been disqualified.”

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced it was now possible to buy Tesla vehicles in the US with Bitcoin, an Istanbul-based luxury car distributor called Royal Motors began accepting payments in cryptocurrencies last week.

Crypto trading volumes hit $27 billion between early February to March 24, according to data analyzed by Reuters, while trading gained momentum especially after the Central Bank governor was dismissed by presidential decree and further weakened the lira.

Last week, the Turkish government asked crypto trading platforms to provide it with user information.


Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 

Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 
Updated 25 January 2022

Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 

Saudi TRSDC gets a boost with environmental ISO accreditation 

RIYADH: The Red Sea Development Co., achieved another milestone in its journey to develop the world's largest sustainable tourism project. 

The Saudi developer, known as TRSDC, was awarded the Environmental Management Standard, ISO 14001:2015 accreditation.

TRSDC’s Environmental Management System was developed as the company launched the EMS manual in January 2021, it said in a statement. 

With respect to the environment, the EMS aimed at guiding and managing TRSDC’s activities throughout design, construction, and operational stages of the project.

“We made a commitment to ourselves, our project and to the Kingdom to go beyond the current expectations of environmental best practice, to deliver a regenerative approach to tourism development,” CEO, John Pagano, said. 

“Achieving this certification is rewarding for our team, who work tirelessly to deliver against our commitments to the environment in which we are working,” said Raed Albasseet, the chief environment and sustainability officer.

TRSDC is developing an area over 28,000 square kilometres on the West Coast of Saudi Arabia. 

Recently, it closed a SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) term loan facility and revolving credit facility with four Saudi banks.

Last year, it was one of the first companies in the Middle East to achieve the ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality management for design and construction of assets, as well as a Green Financing accreditation.


Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project

Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project
Updated 25 January 2022

Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project

Global mining group Rio Tinto restarts Mongolian copper project

Rio Tinto, a Toronto listed mining group, is once again going ahead with its most important growth project, the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia.

The project began after the company reached an agreement with the government of Mongolia, and solved key issues hindering the $7 billion expansion of the project.

On Jan. 25, an underground caving process was launched, which means that the mine will start production in the first half of next year.

Rio Tinto had previously refused to start the undercut until it ended its dispute with the Mongolian government. Rio Tinto-controlled subsidiary company Turquoise Hill Resources, which owns the majority of the Oyu Tolgoi project, has been fighting with Ulan Batur for years over how to split the cost of an underground expansion that is more than $1 billion over budget and several years late.  

Rio Tinto and its subsidiary have agreed to write off $2.4 billion of loans and interest used by the Mongolian Government to fund its share of the development costs, according to the Financial Times. The government will let the company extend an existing deal to import power from China to at least 2026, followed by another extension until 2030 if a domestic energy source is not made available, according to the newspaper.

“The size and the complexity [of the project] requires an aligned way forward, and we haven’t had that for years, I have to admit,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said in an interview quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “So it is a big, big step forward.”

Rio has mined copper from an open pit mine at Oyu Tolgoi for a decade. Given that much of the deposit lies deeper below the Earth’s surface, it has been difficult for the company to reach the ore.

Once at full speed, the Oyu Tolgoi project will be one of the biggest copper mines in the world, producing at peak capacity 500,000 tons a year of the metal. It will also double Rio’s copper division output, according to the Financial Times


Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif

Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif
Updated 25 January 2022

Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif

Tourism Development Fund to develop destination in Saudi city Taif

RIYADH: The Tourism Development Fund will invest more than SR300 million ($80 million) in the Saudi city of Taif, which is located in the western part of the Kingdom, in a bid to attract visitors.

The TDF, a goverment-run organisation fund that aims to strengthen the tourism sector has formed a strategic partnership with the distinguished Al-Ameen Compan.

It will see the development of a hotel with approximately 150 hotel units, retail and entertainment facilities, with additional space for a large outdoor corridor and designated spaces for local and international shops in the area.

The 100,000 square kilometre project reflects a modern concept in shopping by integrating the retail sector and leisure activities.

The project reflects the Fund's commitment to developing emerging tourist areas within the framework of the National Tourism Strategy, Qusay Al-Fakhri, CEO of the Tourism Development Fund said.

He added that it will highlight Taif's distinct and promising potentials, including its mild climate and agricultural sector and enhance the region's attractiveness through world-class tourism facilities.


Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says

Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says
Updated 25 January 2022

Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says

Saudi PIF selects PwC to implement 6 renewable energy projects, CNBC says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, PIF, has selected the global consulting firm PwC as an advisor on six renewable energy projects, including wind and solar plants. 

The projects will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, CNBC Arabia reported, citing banking resources. 

This comes in line with the sovereign fund’s plan to transform the Kingdom into a green economy and diversify its energy mix. 

With a total capacity of around 2.3 gigawatts, the PIF will start financing the second phase of renewable energy projects that it is working on in collaboration with local companies, CNBC Arabia reported. 

The new phase of projects includes the Shoaiba power plant, with two gigawatts of energy from renewable resources and a production capacity of 900 megawatts, CNBC reported citing an informed source. 

Established in 1988, London-based PwC is a one of the Big Four accounting firms that offers business advisory services. 

 


Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   

Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   
Updated 25 January 2022

Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   

Leading Norwegian oil and gas producer Vaar Energi plans IPO   

Vaar Energi, the third biggest oil producer in Norway, is planning an Oslo stock market listing and to raise capital through two private placements.

The initial public offereing could, depending on its size and market value, be the largest oil and gas listing since Aramco raised $25.6 billion at a $1.7 trillion valuation during its IPO in 2019, according to the Financial Times, quoting data provider Dealogic.

The company, which is valued at between $10 billion-$15 billion, had an average production of 247,000 barrels per day during the third quarter.

The group, which is about 70 percent owned by Eni with the rest owned by HitecVision is looking at institutional investors but Eni intends to remain the majority shareholder after the listing. DNB, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and SpareBank 1 are acting as joint global coordinators for the IPO.

“We believe oil and gas will continue to be part of the energy mix for decades to come. The current gas market developments in Europe confirm our view that a reliable and safe supply of natural gas from Norway will be crucial,” said CEO Torger Roed.

Norway is western Europe’s biggest hydrocarbon producer. The company sees the Norwegian continental shelf as one of the most appealing regions for exploration and production globally, thanks to cost competitive and stable regulatory environments as well as low emissions.

Yet recent IPO have faced hurdles as investors insist on sustainability. Vaar Energi wants to achieve zero carbon emissions in its own production by 2030. It is also looking to boost its production to 350,000 bpd by 2025.