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Dunkley hits out at Government on blockchain policy

Bermuda’s bid to attract digital currency business sparked conflict in the House of Assembly last Friday.

Michael Dunkley, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said his questions to the Government over the speed of its adoption of blockchain technology remained unanswered.

Mr Dunkley told MPs: “The reason why my colleagues and I continue to watch this space is because, clearly, initial coin offerings are a new fad.

“It’s now the most common way to finance cryptocurrency ventures — there are now more than 1,600 of these ventures throughout the world.”

Mr Dunkley said that watchdog organisations had shown that 92 per cent of ICO’s “fail”.

The Shadow Minister for National Security and Government Reform said that “quite vociferous comments” had followed his remarks on May 4.

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, told Mr Dunkley that he should have raised his questions during a consultation meeting.

Mr Dunkley said: “The meeting was to discuss the ICO legislation, which on the surface we had no concern about.”

He added the meeting “had not been arranged to discuss any memorandum of understanding”.

Mr Dunkley said he wanted to know where any digital assets exchange “could actually be owned by Bermudians”.

He also questioned what costs might be attached, and asked whether David Burt, the Premier, had been aware that Gabriel Abed, the Bitt founder who has an agreement with the Government, also had an interest in Medici Ventures, which has its own memorandum of understanding with the Government.

Scott Simmons, a Progressive Labour Party MP, accused Mr Dunkley of being “mischievous”.

Mr Scott added: “This industry is fast moving. As a result, I was satisfied this government has moved at that same pace.”

Michael Scott of the PLP said Mr Dunkley should “cease and desist from wanton disfigurement” of blockchain legislation.

Rolfe Commissiong, a PLP backbencher, said the OBA’s concern over blockchain “rings a little hollow”.

He added that the island was “constantly reminded of the reputational damage being done to our economy on the part of the European Union and now in the UK, with respect to companies that are domiciled here but have no physical presence”.

Mr Commissiong said that Scott Pearman, who was unveiled last week as the OBA candidate for the Paget East by-election, was a “prominent lawyer and scion of the Pearman family” and linked to the legal firm Conyers Dill & Pearman.

Mr Commissiong told the House that CD&P was among those island law firms that carried out the business that had drawn international criticism.

He asked: “Where are the voices on that side when it comes to the reputational damage of these law firms to Bermuda’s wellbeing?”