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SEC Chairman Still Tough On Cryptocurrency

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United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton says he won’t make exceptions in securities law for cryptocurrencies, but he won’t stand in their way either.

United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton says he won’t make exceptions in securities law for cryptocurrencies, but he won’t stand in their way either.

Bloomberg published an interview with Jay Clayton on Aug. 27. According to Clayton, he has no desire to change securities laws, either to include or exclude digital assets for regulation. In his own words:

“I think a lot of people got excited that somehow we would change the rules to accommodate the technology and they invested their time and effort thinking that would happen […] I have been pretty clear from the start, that ain’t happening.’’

However, Clayton does not view himself as being anti-innovation or against good digital payments options, per se. He further said:

“If we have a way to reduce the cost of payments internationally, through technology, I am all for it […] But you can’t sacrifice basic principles of securities law, and other law, to allow it to happen.’’

Clayton remarked that he does not view all cryptocurrencies as being identical. He does not consider Bitcoin (BTC), for instance, to be a security. However, he remarked that the SEC has determined many initial coin offerings (ICOs) to be fit for securities regulation. Additionally, he reportedly has found multiple ICO white papers disturbing, saying that they use copied language and phrases like “time is running out’’ or “get in early and you get four times as much value,” which raised red flags for regulators.

The SEC has taken numerous companies to court over misdoings in the course of ICOs. Such proceedings have picked up in recent months. In August, the SEC successfully requested a freeze on assets belonging to Reginald Middleton and his Veritaseum Inc. amid a case alleging that Veritaseum’s $15 million ICO was fraudulent.

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Binance To Start Lending XMR, ZEC and DASH

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Binance To Start Lending XMR, ZEC and DASH
Binance To Start Lending XMR, ZEC and DASH

Binance exchange will feature three new coins within the fifth phase of its crypto lending product available for subscription starting from Sept. 20.

After initially launching its Binance Lending Service on Aug. 28, Binance will now allow users to lend assets and earn interest with three major altcoins, including privacy-focused coin Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC) and Dash (DASH).

Similarly to the initial phase, lending products on the fifth phase on the platform will have a 14-day fixed-term lending period after subscription from Sept. 20 to Sept 21. According to the announcement, all cryptocurrencies will have the same annualized interest rate of 3.5%.

In the initial phase, Binance’s native crypto Binance Coin (BNB) had the highest annualized interest rate of 15%, while the fourth phase offered 10% and 6% interest rates for BNB. The phase also offered lending for Bitcoin (BTC), with 3% interest rate and a total subscription cap of 2,000 BTC as well as Ether (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC) and stablecoin Tether (USDT). 

The interest calculation period for the fifth phase will be from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, while interest payout time will take place immediately after the loan term matures, Binance noted. Yesterday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao dispelled fears that a hacker had attacked its Bitcoin futures platform, launched on Sept. 2. Earlier today, the China-founded exchange was reported to have make its first strategic investment in a Chinese firm after leaving China amid the local crypto trading ban in 2017.

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The Japanese Messaging Company Line Launches Trading Platform Bitmax

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The Japanese Messaging Company Line Launches Trading Platform Bitmax
The Japanese Messaging Company Line Launches Trading Platform Bitmax

Japanese messaging giant Line launched its new crypto trading platform Bitmax on Sept. 17, Following regulatory approval to operate a crypto exchange in early September.

Line’s blockchain arm LVC Corporation officially introduced its newly launched crypto platform today. Following the previous announcement, Bitmax will initially allow users to trade five major cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC).

With exposure to 81 million users in Japan, Line now accepts deposits and withdrawals through its mobile payment service, Line Pay, while crypto trading service can be now accessed from Line Wallet, according to the announcement. The newly launched Japanese exchange welcomes newcomers to crypto trading by allowing users to make small transactions of under 1,000 Japanese yen — worth around $9 at press time.

As emphasized in the announcement, Bitmax is different from Line’s Singapore-based crypto exchange Bitbox, which operates globally, excluding Japan and the United States. Launched in July 2018, Bitbox is not accessible for Japanese traders due to Japan’s crypto exchange license requirements, as previously reported. Line has actively embraced crypto and blockchain technology so far. In 2018, Line launched its native cryptocurrency called Link along with the token-based blockchain network Link Chain. In June 2019, Line Pay Corporation, Line’s financial services arm, teamed up with global payment giant Visa to collaborate on new blockchain and electronic payments solutions.

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Bitfinex Banking Partner Put Under Swiss Regulatory Supervision

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Bitfinex Banking Partner Put Under Swiss Regulatory Supervision

Switzerland-based financial services firm Global Trade Solutions AG has been put under supervision by Swiss financial regulators.

The action by the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) seems to have been prompted by the firm’s association with an alleged scam worth $850 million involving cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex and its sister organization Tether Ltd.

Global Trade Solutions (GTS) is the parent company of several subsidiaries including Crypto Capital, a payments processing firm with a direct connection to Bitfinex. Additionally, it may also be linked to Global Trading Solutions LLC, another financial services provider that came under the scanner of the US government earlier this year.

 Layers of Shady Deals

The alleged scam that eventually led to FINMA’s action against GTS AG is as elaborate as money laundering schemes usually get. It involves layers and layers of shadow banks and proxy companies set up to evade suspicion.

Troubles started brewing for GTS during an investigation against an alleged scam that involved the perpetrators using multiple bank accounts to transfer money to a number of cryptocurrency exchanges, some of them unnamed.

Two suspects — Reginald Fowler of Arizona and Ravid Yosef, an Israeli national — were charged with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, earlier in April 2019. This is where things become interesting in the context of this story.

Apparently, two of the bank accounts named by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in the court documents were registered under the name Global Trading Solutions LLC (owned by Reginald Fowler himself).

Now, the court documents do not explicitly state that Global Trading Solutions is related to Global Trade Solutions AG. However, follow-up journalistic investigations show that the two entities are indeed related.

Besides, even if we ignore any direct link between Global Trade Solutions AG and Global Trading Solutions LLC for a moment, the latter is still believed to have direct ties with Crypto Capital, which in turn, names the Swiss financial services provider as its parent company.

Under these circumstances, it is hardly a surprise that the FINMA has decided to tighten the noose on Global Trade AG.

The Bitfinex Connection

There is documented evidence that Global Trading Solutions has offered services to Bitfinex in the past.

The same can be said about Crypto Capital, which touts itself as a one-stop-platform that enables investors and traders to “deposit and withdraw fiat funds instantly to any crypto exchange around the world.”

It has established links with several cryptocurrencies including Bitfinex, Kraken, and QuadrigaCX (now-defunct), among others. Basically, any cryptocurrency exchange that is denied access to banking services on regulatory grounds turns to Crypto Capital and other similar entities to use them as intermediaries for transferring funds to their customers.

Crypto Capital is currently under scrutiny for its role in the infamous $850 million shady transactions allegedly perpetrated by Bitfinex and Tether Ltd. For those out of the loop, Tether Limited is accused of colluding with Bitfinex to cover up an $850 million loss while misleading investors in the state of New York.

The lawyers representing both Bitfinex and Tether had previously argued that the fund in question wasn’t actually lost, but was seized from the accounts of Crypto Capital by the governments of the US, Portugal, and Poland.

Do you think this new development will somehow stir more trouble for Bitfinex and Tether? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

 

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