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Bitcoin

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Eight times since 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has repeatedly refused to approve applications for a cryptocurrency-linked exchange traded fund (ETF). See here and here. Time and again, the SEC said that the applicants were unable to persuade the Commission that the Bitcoin market was sufficiently resistant to market manipulation. Another common theme was the dissent of Hester Pierce (affectionately known as “Crypto Mom), who said in January 2020, for example: This order…

On January 29, 2021, Hugo Sergio Mejia, 49, of California, was charged in a two-count information with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and money laundering. In a plea agreement, Mejia agreed to plead guilty to these felony offenses. According to his plea agreement, from May 2018 to September 2020, Mejia operated a virtual currency business that exchanged Bitcoin for cash, and vice versa, charging commissions for these transactions. Mejia admitted he never registered his…

Previous posts have talked about India’s interesting relationship with cryptocurrency. In 2018, India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had banned domestic financial institutions from providing banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges in India. In March 2020, the India Supreme Court struck down the RBI ban as unconstitutional. The report last month that the Indian government was weighing a proposal to impose an 18% goods and services tax on Bitcoin transactions was looked on…

We have previously reported about how India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had banned domestic financial institutions from providing banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges in India, and how, in a decision on March 4, 2020, the India Supreme Court struck down the RBI ban as unconstitutional. Now, the Times of India is reporting that the Indian government is weighing a proposal to impose an 18% goods and services tax on Bitcoin transactions. …

In the UK, the recent case of Toma v Murray [2020] EWHC 2295 (Ch), adds to the evolving case law in respect of cryptocurrencies. At the end of last year, the Commercial Court in AA v Persons Unknown [2019] EWHC 3556 (Comm) granted an interim proprietary injunction over Bitcoin, thereby confirming Bitcoin’s status as property (see our post here). However, in this recent case, Judge Robin Vos refused the claimant’s application to continue an injunction over…

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,…