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Bitcoin

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On August 20, 2020, three Swiss companies, 21 Analytics, Crypto Finance AG, and Mt. Pelerin, conducted a live demonstration of a Bitcoin transaction valued at US$23 million. The transaction between Crypto Finance and Mt. Pelerin was powered by 21 Analytics’ regtech, and ran over Swiss FATF travel rule system OpenVASP and the TRP, another institution-focused solution led by ING Bank. The transaction is reported to be the first cryptocurrency transaction in Switzerland that automated full…

In December 2019, a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia indicted Larry Dean Harmon for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, in violation of the District of Columbia’s Money Transmitters Act (MTA). He was charged in connection with his alleged operation of Helix, an underground tumbler for bitcoin. As described in the indictment, Helix “enabled customers, for a fee, to send bitcoins to designated recipients in a manner which was designed to conceal and…

On July 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Kais Mohammad, a.k.a. “Superman29,” agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges that he operated an illegal virtual-currency money services business that exchanged up to $25 million – including on behalf of criminals – through in-person transactions and a network of Bitcoin ATM-type kiosks. According to his plea agreement, from December 2014 to November 2019, Mohammad owned and operated Herocoin, an illegal virtual-currency money…

On July 7, 2020, the Texas State Securities Board issued an Order against Mirror Trading International (MTI) to cease operations immediately, alleging the South African bitcoin and forex trading network is a multilevel marketing scam. According to the Order, Mirror Trading, controlled by Cornelius Johannes “Johan” Steynberg, is recruiting multilevel marketers to illegally sell fraudulent investments in a bitcoin and forex pool. Investors allegedly purchase the products by transferring bitcoin to Mirror Trading. Mirror Trading…

In the context of a search warrant in a criminal case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States held that the virtual currency exchange Coinbase was like a “traditional bank.” The details of the case, U.S. v Gratkowski, Case No. 19-50492 (5th Cir. June 30, 2020), are as follows. Richard Gratkowski became the subject of a federal investigation when federal agents began investigating a child-pornography website. To download material from the website,…

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced on April 20 that it had issued an Order of Designation to Bitnomial Exchange, LLC located in Chicago, Ill., granting it status as a designated contract market (DCM). As a result, Bitnomial joins a small number of other companies able to offer Bitcoin futures and option contracts. According to Bitnomial’s press release, “The approval allows Bitnomial to tackle a confluence of generational shifts in financial markets: First, a…

In a January 14, 2020 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bitwise Asset Management requested the withdrawal of its application for a cryptocurrency-linked exchange traded fund (ETF). This came after the SEC had rejected Bitwise’s proposal in October 2019. On February 26, 2020, the SEC issued an Order that rejected the request by Wilshire Phoenix for a Bitcoin-based ETF. The SEC’s reasoning was similar to what it had said in 2019 with…

Summary On December 13 2019, in the case of AA v Persons Unknown [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm), the UK Commercial Court granted an interim proprietary injunction over Bitcoin, thereby confirming its status as property. Background In October 2019, cyber-attackers hacked into the computer system of a Canadian insurance company and installed malware which encrypted those systems, preventing anyone but the hackers from accessing them. The hackers then offered decryption software to the insurance company in…

On April 21, 2019, the English High Court ruled that it would have jurisdiction to hear the case of Ramona ANG v Reliantco Investments Ltd, following its determination that speculative investments, in this case Bitcoin futures, are not inherently a business activity. Therefore, the protections afforded to consumers under EU law (the Brussels Regulation (Recast) No 12/5/2012 (the “Regulation”) to bring claims via the courts in their own jurisdictions could apply to individual investors using…

On April 18, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury assessed a civil money penalty against Eric Powers for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act’s (BSA) registration, program, and reporting requirements. This was FinCEN’s first enforcement action against a peer-to-peer virtual currency exchanger and the first instance in which it has penalized an exchanger of virtual currency for failure to file Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs). Powers advertised his…