• Motion To Adjourn Brief – Full Statement in the House of Assembly on Friday, May 11, 2018 by One Bermuda Alliance MP and Former Premier Michael Dunkley
Michael Dunkley, OBA MP & Former Premier

Mr Speaker last week on the MTA I spoke about various known MOU’s in regards to ICOs (initial coin offerings) that the Premier has signed. In summary of my comments, you could say I spoke about the potential of ICOs. But many questions have been unanswered.

ICOs generally have a questionable reputation and thus it is good to have as much information and discussion in the Bermuda process of developing this industry.
My questions remain today Mr Speaker; in spite of the vociferous comments by some government members following my remarks, the questions have not been addressed.
In fact Mr Speaker, you even asked some members not to rise on points of order while I was speaking, as they would have a chance to speak on the MTA and none of them rose to speak and clarify. That in itself speaks volumes.
Minister Caines did speak, and I wish to clarify for the Hon Minister and clear up his claim that I should have raised my concerns when Opposition members had a meeting the day before the ICO legislation was debated in the House.
I simply could not Mr Speaker and here is why.
The meeting was to discuss the ICO legislation, which on the surface we had no concern, as there needs to be a regulatory framework for the business, not MOU’s that the Premier has signed – some public at the time of the meeting and some not.
ICO’s are the most common way to finance Cryptocurrency ventures and there are now over 1,600 and the number is growing.
Mr Speaker, the ICO advisory firm Satis Group, say 81 percent of ICOs are scams created by con artists and swindlers, and 92% of ICOs fail.  Thus the need for sound regulation and oversight.
Mr Speaker, China has banned ICOs outright and the US Securities Exchange has issued many warnings regarding this matter and is looking at regulation and oversight.
Not to reflect on the debate, but you will recall that the opposition supported the legislation during the debate with caution as we move forward and not to over hype this matter.
Why Mr Speaker?
If 92 percent of ICOs fail, that means a lot of investors also lose their investment. So while we work to grow our economy and provide opportunity and jobs, we also must set up a framework to allow a viable industry that’s protects consumers.
Mr Speaker, the meeting the Minister arranged was not to discuss various MOUs the Premier might have signed, and some of these were not even public at the time. The meeting was arranged to discuss the legislation.
I note Mr Speaker, that shortly after that meeting, which I had to leave early for another meeting, a number of amendments were sent to Opposition members but never mentioned at the meeting. One wonders why this was the case.
The Premier closed the MTA and did not address any of the questions, which stimulates me to rise again today and ask further questions. But before I do Mr Speaker, let me for the record again, say we will support the Government with every opportunity to improve the lives of Bermudians and to create jobs.
And the people of Bermuda can be assured we will always provide diligence in reviewing these opportunities. This is exactly what is happening in this case.
So here are some questions, some asked again:
  • The MOU with Binance says they will as soon as practicable develop a digital asset exchange in Bermuda?
  • What is the timeline on “as soon as practicable”?
  • Will others, especially Bermudians, be able to develop a digital asset exchange?
  • Bermudians should not only be able to have employment but also the opportunity to own it…
  • The MOU says that Binance will work collaboratively with Government and all necessary oversight agencies, to develop and improve a robust legal and regulatory framework. Who are the oversight agencies?
  • Who is the lead agency in making this happen?
  • What other businesses are being consulted through this process?
  • Will the Premier table the MOU’s associated with this business in the House?
  • Are there any costs attached to the MOU’s for either party?
  • Why did the Premier not mention the MOU with Bitt and Gabriel Abed in the statement to the House last week? 
  • When the Premier signed the MOU with Bitt was the Hon Member aware of their association with Medici?
All of these questions are important and tie in to what I was saying last week. I look forward to answers from the Premier or anyone he might delegate to answer.
Not personal attacks, not political spin and no loud shouting is required.
Finally, regarding transparency, accountability and access to registers… Bermuda is under pressure from many areas for reasons we all know Mr Speaker.
In many cases Cryptocurrency is an unknown quantity and investors are as well.  Thus, if we do not set this industry up in the correct way more pressure will be added to the challenges we face in dealing with questions of ownership.
Mr Speaker, a startup company called Xapo has “bitcoin vaults” in five (5) locations around the world. They do not actually store Bitcoin but the vaults store the private, cryptographic keys used to lay claim to particular Bitcoins.
Now this is perhaps not what was envisioned for Bermuda. But the overriding “unknown” factor of the potential industry means as a jurisdiction we need to make sure we set up any potential new industry with all proper legislation and oversight.
In the case of bitcoin and Cryptocurrency we have a lot of work to do.