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Government insists on value of crypto bill despite criticism

Wednesday 17 April 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Technology


Government insists on value of crypto bill despite criticism
Tukaka Ama is the chairperson of the special select committee looking into the Tainted Cryptocurrency Recovery Bill 2023. 23121366

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has hit back at the critics of the draft Tainted Cryptocurrency Recovery Bill 2023, saying the media did not highlight positive aspects of the Bill.

The Bill, currently before a special select committee, was tabled in Parliament in December last year. The Bill, which reportedly could validate hacking into any account or system in the world, has been criticised for excluding the Crown Law Office, the government's legal arm, during the drafting process.

On Monday, Cook Islands News contacted the OPM for comments on who authorised the US-based private company Drumcliffe to draft the legislation and why the Crown Law Office wasn’t included in the drafting process.

The Office of the Prime Minister did not respond directly to the questions but said it was unfortunate that some have elected to attack a draft Tainted Cryptocurrency Recovery Bill 2023 “aimed at trying to help in the worldwide fight against cybercrime”.

Also read: Spy film type thing: Alarm grows over Cook Islands cryptocurrency bill  

> ‘I was not consulted’

A spokesperson also discounted any suggestion that submitters may not have had a chance to have their say on the Bill.

They said while the select committee advertised in January that submitters would be given until the close of business on March 14 to lodge their comments on the Bill, “the chair of the committee has been accepting late submissions”.

Last Friday people were also given the opportunity to speak to their submission, the spokesperson added.

“We are aware that all of the government agencies that made written submissions had raised various issues/concerns with the current draft of the bill. But importantly they also spoke of some solutions they could see going forward as well as some of the non-issues that have been reported in the media.

“For example, the practice of private sponsored legislative drafting is not uncommon in the financial industry as was pointed out by David Greig in the Crown Law Office submission, and so it is unfortunate (but not unusual) that the reporting on this matter hasn’t covered this.”

The spokesperson reiterated Prime Minister Mark Brown’s earlier comments that he “is confident that whatever law we end up with will be in keeping with our constitution and laws, and will be aligned with other international agencies and countries fighting cybercrime”.

“What the public can take heart from this process is that the country does have an active and vibrant democracy and Parliament at play.”

Margret Numanga, the Parliament Select Committees secretary, says the committee last sat on Friday, April 12, to hear material expert advice and evidence from submitters, including witnesses summoned to take questions regarding the submissions received for committee consideration.

The Committee consists of Tukaka Ama (Chairperson), Vaitoti Tupa (Deputy Chairperson) and members Akaiti Puna, Tuakeu Tangatapoto, Timi Varu, Toa Isamaela and Tetangi Matapo.

There was a total of six hearing sessions held consisting of 17 witnesses and submitters.

Numanga said all submissions would be reviewed and considered at length and further deliberated to assist the select committee with their review and report to Parliament.

When asked if there will be any public consultations on this Bill in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua, she said consultation timeframe and schedules were currently being discussed and would be confirmed publicly soon.

The committee has received 16 submissions regarding the Bill.