October 1, 2019 / 1:08 PM / 14 days ago

UPDATE 1-Switzerland's FINMA boss fears crypto's "dark corners," not Libra

(Adds comment from Branson)

By Angelika Gruber

ZURICH, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Switzerland is more worried about cryptocurrency projects developing outside official scrutiny than about the Facebook-conceived Libra project, which is being handled with openness, the head of Swiss financial supervisor FINMA said on Tuesday.

"I am much more nervous about projects which develop in a dark corner in the financial system somewhere, spread themselves out through cyber space and one day are too big to be stopped," Branson said at a Bloomberg event in Zurich. "Here is something which is being done transparently."

Three months ago, Facebook announced plans to launch the digital currency in June 2020, sparking intense interest -- and more recently, opposition from France and Germany -- in what is seen as a bid to drag cryptocurrencies into the mainstream. The project could be delayed amid global scrutiny, Libra officials said last week.

With the Libra Association that oversees the digital coin based in Geneva, Switzerland has been the focus of much of the scrutiny, since Branson's office is among those that will supervise the project.

He reiterated that Libra will be under strict rules that typically apply to banks on top of tough anti-money laundering laws, but that Switzerland would not be putting up extra hurdles in front of the project.

"We are not here to make such projects impossible," Branson said. "We will respond to them with an open mind, with an attitude that same risks require same rules. Our rules and standards are non-negotiable." (Reporting by Angelika Gruber, writing by Riham Alkousaa, editing by John Miller)

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