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G7 plan to get tough on virtual currencies after paris attacks spiegel


´╗┐BERLIN Nov 18 The Group of Seven industrial nations plan to tighten the regulation of digital currencies such as bitcoin, which they suspect Islamic State is using to move funds secretly, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Wednesday. Stung by last week's Paris attacks, which Islamic State has claimed, the G7 finance ministers discussed the regulation of "fintechs" or financial technology firms on Monday at a private meeting during a Group of 20 summit in Turkey, the magazine said. The German Finance Ministry declined to comment, saying that G7 ministerial meetings were confidential.

The software-based financial services that FinTechs offer, including digital or 'virtual' currencies such as bitcoin, often operate across borders and beyond the reach of security officials.

Bitcoin, which exists only in digital form, can be used to move money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for third-party verification. That has made it attractive to users ranging from drug dealers to those trying to circumvent capital controls in Greece and China.

The European Commission, the European Union's executive, has also outlined plans to improve regulation of the 'fintech' sector. A paper issued on Tuesday included a chapter on measures to prevent financing of terrorism, saying that "the use of virtual currencies will be subject to particular attention".

Greeces invisible negotiator may assuage bailout fears in election run


´╗┐Aug 31 The appointment of Greek bailout negotiator George Chouliarakis to be finance minister in a caretaker government may help assuage some fears that Greece's bailout programme could go off track while it prepares for elections. Greece is due to hold elections on Sept.20 after former prime minister Alexis Tsipras resigned in a bid to win popular backing for his decision to accept the 86-billion-euro aid plan from creditors and get rid of leftist rebels opposed to it. But with European and International Monetary Fund lenders inspectors due to review Greece's progress under the bailout in October, having weeks of election campaigning raised fears that Athens could once again fall behind on targets set under the plan. Chouliarakis, who played a key role in technical-level talks with EU and IMF lenders, sought to address those concerns when he took over as interim finance minister on Friday saying his main target was "to make sure we won't lose valuable time".

His appointment quickly won a vote of confidence from Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the group of euro zone finance ministers that decides on aid disbursements to Greece."(Chouliarakis) knows what he's doing because he was top man in the ministry for the past year and half," Dijsselbloem said.

An economist by training, Chouliarakis taught economics in Britain at the University of Essex before taking up a post as lecturer on European economic integration at the University of Manchester. Notoriously media-shy, Chouliarakis preferred to toil away from the limelight during months of tough negotiations between Greece and its foreign lenders this year, which prompted some in the Greek media to call him "the invisible negotiator".

"You don't see Mr. Chouliarakis very often but you all know of him. Yes, he is a real person - because some of you have asked me if he exists," former finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos said jokingly on Friday while handing over the finance ministry to him."I am certain that with his work, as always, and with his devotion to the public good it would be difficult to think of a better interim finance minister, someone who loves what he does and does it very well."Well-respected by Greece's European creditors, Chouliarakis was given a more decisive role in the talks after former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was sidelined earlier this year.

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