France’s National Assembly Finance Head, Eric Woerth, has announced that the country wants to ban anonymous cryptocurrencies, such as Monero and Dash. This comes after a report (in French) about cryptocurrencies was published. He thinks it “appropriate” to propose a ban on all privacy-focused cryptos because they offer too much anonymity to the users.
Woerth, who is the Minister of Budget and Labour, said that they need to be aware of the problems cryptocurrencies pose in terms of fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and energy consumption. He asserts that users of privacy coins can act above the law because they cannot be identified.
He has mentioned that a distinction must be made between different cryptocurrencies in order to protect people, and it is only privacy coins he’d like to ban. He’s called for other cryptocurrencies to be regulated.
Anonymity Might Have Kept Him Out Of The Courts
Perhaps if Woerth had used privacy coins during the so-called Bettencourt scandal, he’d be less keen on banning them. Liliane Bettencourt, a French heiress and the richest woman in the world at her death in 2017, became embroiled in a high-level French political scandal alongside Mr Woerth.
Details of a conversation between the two became public after a tape recording made by her butler was released in 2010. The conversation revealed that during the time Woerth was acting as budget minister and running a high-profile campaign to catch wealthy tax evaders, he was petitioning for a job for his wife to manage Bettencourt’s wealth. Additionally, Bettencourt received a massive €30 million tax rebate while Mr Woerth was budget minister in Nicolas Sarkozy’s government.
One month later, Bettencourt’s former accountant, Claire Thibout alleged in an interview that Mr Woerth was given an envelope containing €150 000 in cash in March 2007 towards the presidential campaign of Sarkozy. In France, political donations are limited to €7 500 for political parties and €4 600 for individuals. Contributions above €150 must be paid by cheque with the donor clearly identified.
Although he was placed under formal investigation by the Cour de Justice de la République all charges against him were dismissed in 2015.
It is unlikely that France will ban privacy coins, it could prove to be an impossible task and it would only make them more appealing. These coins are there to benefit legitimate users who prefer to keep their financial details private. Privacy coins give users a degree of anonymity in an meaningful decentralized process, something governments are able to ban, but unable to stop .