IRB unfreezes Luno’s account to aid customers’ withdrawals

The company is working closely with Maybank to have the account operational again


Cryptocurrency exchange Luno remains focused on helping its customers to withdraw deposits, following the Inland Revenue Board’s (IRB) move to unfreeze its account in Malaysia.

In a status update on its website dated Feb 19, 2018, the UK-based company said it continues to work with Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) and has “a few proposals in place around helping with customer withdrawals since that is our immediate focus”.

“Maybank is fully aware of the situation and is being cooperative. Rest assured, the issue is receiving attention at the highest level from both Luno and the bank,” the digital token exchange said about its status update.

Luno, one of the earliest bitcoin exchanges in the world, had been meeting with the IRB, also known as Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri, to “help them better understand both Luno and the industry more broadly”.

“We continue to resolve this matter as soon as possible. The IRB has now agreed to unfreeze our account while it completes the investigation, and we are working closely with Maybank to have the account operational again,” it said in a Feb 2, 2018, status update.

The account of Luno’s local entity, BitX Malaysia Sdn Bhd, was previously frozen by the IRB following an investigation into tax-related matters.

The related stakeholder must now find a resolution to unfrozen the account and allow withdrawals.

Monetary authorities in Malaysia and several other countries have been trying to find ways to regulate the obscure, yet popular digital token, in an attempt to protect consumers’ interest and prevent excessive speculations that could result in massive losses for investors.

Earlier last month, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) halted the introduction of Singapore-based CopyCash Foundation in Malaysia, including a proposed initial coin offering on domestic shores.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have been gaining across the globe, pushing the digital token to unprecedented rise last year. Bitcoins alone rose almost 1,900% last year, defying any economic and investment fundamentals. However, the most popular cryptocurrency took a beating, slumping from the above US$19,000 (RM74,290) level and below US$7,000 in less than two months, erasing billions in market capitalisation. The cryptocurrency had recovered to above US$11,000 level with a market capitalisation of US$188.6 billion, or six times bigger than the largest listed firm on Bursa Malaysia — Maybank.

Authorities fear without proper supervision, investors will fall into the trap and incur huge losses. Governments are also worried the digital token will be used for money laundering without proper monitoring and rules.