The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has stated that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is the appropriate authority to investigate illegal transactions in cryptocurrencies.

Responding to queries raised by ProPakistani, an SBP spokesperson said in case any illegal transaction in cryptocurrencies was discovered, FIA was the appropriate authority to investigate. He made it clear that it was not the central bank’s prerogative to examine any individual if he or she is engaged in the aforenamed illegal activity.

Referring to the recent FIA seizure of over 1,000 bank accounts for crypto transactions, the spokesperson said the central bank had issued a clear directive to the banking sector with regard to the illegality of dealing in cryptocurrency.

To a question, the spokesperson mentioned SBP was conducting internal studies on cryptocurrencies as part of its future monetary strategies in the country. He said, “the case for cryptocurrencies in Pakistan is currently sub judice,” meaning that there should be no public discussions on the said subject.

It is worth considering that despite hopes of a regulatory shift toward adopting digital assets as legal tender, the situation is now incredibly uncertain to determine whether the country will see digital assets regularized in the next few years. So far, the sale and purchase of virtual assets are prohibited under the SBP’s Circular No. 3 of the Banking Policy and Regulation Department (BPRD) dated 6 April 2018.

Earlier this week, FIA seized bank accounts of 1,064 individuals who had carried out 2,923 transactions worth a whopping Rs. 51 million through numerous online exchanges, including Binance, Coinbase, and Coinmama. Moreover, the bank accounts of individuals who had been using Binance P2P to buy or sell cryptocurrencies were also frozen.

Pakistan is among the top 15 in the world for digital currency adoption as of July 2021. According to the President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Pakistanis currently possess cryptocurrencies worth $20 billion.