EU executive to look at regulating Bitcoin currency

LONDON, July 4 Fri Jul 4, 2014 8:51am EDT

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) - European Union financial services chief Michel Barnier believes it is "imperative" to look at possible EU regulation for virtual currencies like bitcoin, his spokeswoman said on Friday.

"We will now look into what can be done to possibly introduce regulation in this sector, particularly to address the risks of financial crime that arise from the anonymity that characterises many virtual currencies," the spokeswoman said in emailed statement.

"It is imperative to move quickly on this issue. The potential for money laundering and terrorist financing is too serious to ignore."

Barnier, who has powers to propose new EU laws, was responding to an announcement from the bloc's banking watchdog on Friday that lenders should steer clear of virtual currencies until rules are in place.

(Reporting by Huw Jones, editing by William Hardy)

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