A Philippines lawmaker is seeking to speed up the passage of legislation that would increase the penalties for crimes involving cryptocurrencies.
Leila M. de Lima, a Philippines' opposition senator, urged her colleagues in the legislative house on Monday to allow "swift passage" of bills she has previously introduced that propose raising the penalties for crypto crimes to one degree higher than currently.
As reported by CoinDesk, the politician first moved forward with the bill (SB 1694) in March after noting the increasing difficulty of investigating crimes that make use of the anonymity-providing features of cryptocurrencies.
De Lima's latest call to speed up the passing of the bill, however, was prompted by a recent bitcoin fraud case in the Philippines that saw 900 million pesos ($50 million) apparently taken from more than 50 residents.
According to a statement from the Philippine National Police on April 10, the scheme's suspected organizers – Arnel Ordonio and his wife Leonady Ordonio – have been arrested for allegedly swindling the investors.
"No matter how small or big a group, same punishment must be given. It should never be easy to escape after stealing the hard earned money of other people," de Lima said of the case.
To that effort, the senator is also urging the house to swiftly pass another bill (No. 959) that she introduced previously. The legislation, if passed, would reduce the criteria to qualify as a "syndicated estafa" crime from five to two perpetrators.
Under the current legal framework in the Philippines, syndicated estafa refers to scams that involve more than five individuals, who upon conviction, may be punished by life imprisonment or death.
Bitcoin image via Shutterstock