2016-September: Regarding classification of Ethereum and DAO tokens.
From: Otto de Voogd To: Urmas Pai, firstname.lastname@example.org, Arnold Tenusaar Subject: Teabenoue: Legal Status of Ethereum and DAO tokens Date: Fri, 9 Sep 2016 14:32:21 +0200
Dear Mr. Reimand, Mr. Pai, and Mr. Tenusaar, Your answers to my other requests unfortunately make it very unclear to me what the criteria are for the Estonian Police to determine which items are classified as alternative means of payment. 1. What is the legal classification of Ethereum in Estonia? 2. What is the legal classification of DAO tokens in Estonia? For instance how would The DAO have been classified in Estonia? 3. What are the exact criteria applied by the Estonian Police when deciding what is and what is not an alternative means of payment? Please confirm receipt of this e-mail as well as the date by which I will be getting an answer. Regards, Otto -- GPG key fingerprint = C22C 4F08 6BA6 3ADE 5FE4 8496 23BA D351 C916 B67D
The Estonian FIU, probably in an attempt to be annoying, sends answers as scans of printed documents. So much for "e-Estonia". Attachement are under the link at the bottom of each e-mail.
The Estonian Financial "Intelligence" Unit, now points to the Ministry of Finance to answer the question of the classification of Ethereum. Which is curious because the FIU decided all by itself to apply the law to Bitcoin at the time. My attempts at the time to establish who had decided on the classification of Bitcoin was also not answered honestly. See this e-mail exchange with Aivar Paul. But it was clear there was no written instruction from the Ministry of Finance to the FIU prior to them initiating hostilities against me. Thus the FIU decided all by itself to classify Bitcoin at the time. Their refusal to now clarify if they will or will not apply the same law to Ethereum, is further proof of the blantant dishonesty of the Estonian FIU.
From: email@example.com To: Otto de Voogd Subject: Täiendav vastus päringule Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:12:05 +0300 (EEST)
Teile on saadetud rahapesu andmebüroo dokumendihaldussüsteemi kaudu dokument „Täiendav vastus päringule“ mis on registreeritud 29.09.2016 numbriga 3.4-3/5-9. Palume viivitamata kinnitada dokumentide kättesaamist e-posti aadressile: firstname.lastname@example.org Rahapesu andmebüroo Tööstuse 52 10416 TALLINN telefon: 612 3840 e-post: email@example.com www.politsei.ee Attachement: Marget Lundava answer
From: Otto de Voogd To: Urmas Pai, firstname.lastname@example.org, Arnold Tenusaar Subject: Re: Täiendav vastus päringule Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2016 22:22:44 +0200
As she failed to provide her e-mail address, please pass this e-mail on to Mrs Marget Lundava. Dear Mrs Marget Lundava, Regarding your reply dated 29.09.2016 to my questions from 09.09.2016, I regret to inform you that I am not satisfied with your answer, as it primarily seems to avoid actually answering my questions. Funnily enough your reply refers to the PIA while simultaneously claiming that I should ask the Ministry of Finance for clarification on the classification of Ethereum. Let me remind you of some segments of the PIA that you seem to have overlooked: "§ 21. Forwarding of requests for information according to competence (1) If a holder of information does not possess the requested information, the holder of information shall ascertain the competent holder of information and forward the request for information promptly thereto, but not later than within five working days, and shall notify the person making the request for information thereof at the same time." Your refusal to answer my question regarding Ethereum can only be seen as you claiming you are not competent to answer this question. Estonian law clearly stipulates that YOU shall ascertain who can answer my request and forward it to that competent person within 5 working days. It's not unreasonable to expect from someone working in law enforcement that she at the very least follows the law herself, yet I can only conclude that you have failed in your obligations under the PIA by refusing to answer my request. I therefore reiterate my request for information regarding Ethereum. Also note that back in early 2015 I asked your predecessor, Mr. Aivar Paul, to clarify who had decided on the classification of Bitcoin in Estonia, an discussion in which you yourself had an unhelpful cameo appearance. He was unable to provide a document showing that the Ministry of Finance had instructed the FIU to apply said AML law to Bitcoin. It's obviously clear that the decision to apply the Alternative Means of Payment law to Bitcoin was made by the FIU. Although the MinFin agreed with the FIU's decision after the fact. If the FIU can decide to apply said law to Bitcoin, it can decide to apply (or not) said law to Ethereum. It's also clear the task of actually applying AML law lies with the FIU and not with the Ministry of Finance, neither does the FIU consult with the MinFin before applying the law as was shown in the Bitcoin case. Thus I am addressing my questions to correct institution. I'd also like to remind you of the purpose of the PIA, the purpose of the PIA - contrarily to what you think - is not to allow you to hide information or find excuses to refuse to answer questions, the purpose is to allow the public to monitor the performance of public duties. This is the intent of my questions to the FIU. By refusing to answer you are hindering my rights to monitor the FIU in the performance of its duties. "§ 1. Purpose of Act The purpose of this Act is to ensure that the public and every person has the opportunity to access information intended for public use, based on the principles of a democratic and social rule of law and an open society, and to create opportunities for the public to monitor the performance of public duties." Your previous reply, while failing to answer my questions in contravention of the PIA, has raised some more questions in my mind, as you've implied some things which I'd like you to make explicit. Please answer these questions: 1. Your refusal to clarify the legal status of Ethereum and point to the Ministry of Finance instead, raises the following question: Is the FIU competent to decide whether to apply §6 (4) of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act or does it require approval from another state institution beforehand? 1.a. If permission is required, who gave the FIU permission to apply §6 (4) to Bitcoin? Please also provide documentary proof of that permission. 1.b. If the FIU does not need permission from another state institution, then the FIU should be able to say whether it would apply §6 (4) of the MLTFPA to Ethereum as it did to Bitcoin. So the question again, would the FIU apply §6 (4) to Ethereum or not? The FIU would currently either apply §6 (4) or not apply it to Ethereum, there are no other options. If you refuse to state whether you would or would not apply this law to Ethereum, please state unequivocally that the FIU refuses to answer this question and refuses to provide clarity to the public. Any person who in the future will fall victim to a secret interpretation of the law by the FIU regarding Ethereum (or any other cryptocurrency), will then be able to point to your answer to my question as evidence that the legal classification of Ethereum could not be known in advance (just as it was not known in advance for Bitcoin either). Let me also note that while you claim, that there is a new law in the making, currently the old law stands and has been approved by the Estonian Supreme Court who claims it is "not difficult to understand" (as you quoted yourself). If it's not difficult to understand, then the FIU should be able to answer clearly with a yes or no if this supposedly "very clear" law applies to Ethereum or not. You and your predecessor have made it abundantly clear to the world that the Estonian FIU does not like to answer questions and does not like to provide legal clarity to the public. If you want to correct this perception, this is your chance. Please confirm reception of the e-mail, and specify when I can expect an answer. Yours Sincerely Otto de Voogd Bitcoin Refugee
From: Urmas Pai To: Otto de Voogd Subject: Täiendav vastus päringule Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 07:02:44 +0000
Dear Mr. De Voogd Just a clarification - as you’re iterating your questions (sent on e-mail 09.09.2016) regarding Ethereum to what we have answered that Ministry of Finance is competent on that field (providing of legal explanation related to Estonian AML act), do you want us to forward your questions to Ministry of Finance? We have not done it because PIA § 21 regulates the procedure of forwarding the request of information in means of PIA (teabenõue) and as your letter could not be seen as “teabenõue“ we have not forwarded it eralier. Best regards Urmas Pai Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit Tööstuse Street 52, 10416 Tallinn, Estonia tel. secretary +372 6 123 840 tel. direct +372 6 123 859 fax +372 6 123 845 email@example.com www.politsei.ee/rahapesu
From: Otto de Voogd To: Urmas Pai Subject: Re: Täiendav vastus päringule Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:37:16 +0200
Dear Mr Pai, Please read my e-mail again. Are these the exact same questions I have asked before? 1. Your refusal to clarify the legal status of Ethereum and point to the Ministry of Finance instead, raises the following question: Is the FIU competent to decide whether to apply §6 (4) of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act or does it require approval from another state institution beforehand? 1.a. If permission is required, who gave the FIU permission to apply §6 (4) to Bitcoin? Please also provide documentary proof of that permission. 1.b. If the FIU does not need permission from another state institution, then the FIU should be able to say whether it would apply §6 (4) of the MLTFPA to Ethereum as it did to Bitcoin. So the question again, would the FIU apply §6 (4) to Ethereum or not? If you answer these questions honestly for a change (which experience shows I should not expect), then I am happy. But if you think another state institution would better be able to answer questions about how the FIU operates and when the FIU would apply a specific law, then the FIU itself, then yes forward this request for information to that other state institution. Best Regards, Otto
From: Urmas Pai To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Täiendav vastus päringule Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:48:12 +0000
Dear Mr. De Voogd What I meant was do you want us to forward your questions from the e-mail 09.09.2016 to Ministry of Finance? We will answer to new questions you asked (Q1 and Q1.a or Q1.b) no later than 31.10.2016. Best regards Urmas Pai Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit Tööstuse Street 52, 10416 Tallinn, Estonia tel. secretary +372 6 123 840 tel. direct +372 6 123 859 fax +372 6 123 845 firstname.lastname@example.org www.politsei.ee/rahapesu
From: Otto de Voogd To: Urmas Pai Subject: Re: Täiendav vastus päringule Date: Sun, 2 Oct 2016 04:31:22 +0200
Dear Mr Pai, Since you didn't forward it in time as required by law, I've already done it myself. I am curious to see if they are any better than the FIU, or if they'll also refuse to provide legal clarity to the public regarding this supposedly very clear and easy to understand law (as your Supreme Court put it). Best Regards, Otto de Voogd
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2016 16:32:30 +0300 (EEST) From: email@example.com To: Otto de Voogd Subject: Vastus küsimustele
The document management system of the Financial Intelligence Unit has forwarded You a document "Vastus küsimustele" registered on 28.10.2016 with number 3.4-3/5-14. Estonian FIU Tööstuse street 52 10416 Tallinn ESTONIA phone +372 612 3840 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.politsei.ee Attachement: Madis Reimand answer