Argentina's Central Bank (BCRA) began an investigation of nine fintech companies for allegedly offering unauthorized financial intermediation through cryptoassets.
The companies convert deposits into cryptoassets, particularly cryptocurrencies, the BCRA claimed in a statement on Friday. These cryptoassets are used to finance both investments and for consumer finance, offering a profit as a counterparty.
The BCRA did not name the companies under investigation. A spokesperson for the BCRA told CoinDesk the central bank is in the process of notifying the companies, a process it will complete by the end of next week.
The spokesperson said the companies involved are those that offer users interest for depositing cryptocurrencies.
Through the law on financial entities, BCRA has the power to require information when a person or company is suspected of performing financial intermediation tasks, the central bank's statement said.
The entity can order the immediate and definitive cessation of the activity and apply sanctions.
If the investigations find evidence of unauthorized financial intermediation, BCRA will file criminal charges based on article 310 of the Argentine criminal code, which establishes prison sentences of one to four years, fines of two to six times the value of the transactions and disqualification from operating in Argentina for up to six years.
UPDATE (June 14, 2021, 14:12): Headline tweaked for clarity.