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TV Star Paris Hilton Launches Metaverse Business 'Paris World' on Roblox

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Paris Hilton commands as much as $1 million (roughly Rs. 7.47 crores) a night working as a celebrity DJ, entertaining partiers at clubs in China, Dubai and on the Spanish vacation island of Ibiza.

This New Year’s Eve, she will be playing an electronic set for the revelers who drop by a venue of a different sort — her virtual island on Roblox.

Hilton created an island in the online virtual world, dubbed Paris World, where visitors can explore digital replicas of her Beverly Hills estate and its dog mansion, stroll a boardwalk inspired by the neon carnival wedding celebration she and husband Carter Reum hosted earlier this year at the Santa Monica Pier in California, and explore the island in a luxury sports car or Sunray yacht.

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Like other virtual hangouts, Paris World will collect small payments for purchasing virtual clothing or booking a ride on a jet-ski.

“For me, the metaverse is somewhere that you can do everything you can do in real life in the digital world,” said Hilton, who worked to create aspects of her globe-trotting life for fans. “Not everybody gets to experience that, so that’s what we’ve been working together on over the past year — giving them all my inspirations of what I want in that world.”

Hilton, 40, joins a clutch of celebrities and brands rushing to embrace the metaverse, a broad term referring to a persistent virtual world. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg popularised the term this year he renamed the company to Meta to emphasise the metaverse’s central role to the company’s future.

Brands such as Tommy Hilfiger brand launched a line of digital ready-to-wear fashion for Roblox avatars. Nike opened a virtual world called Nikeland in November, where visitors can play dodgeball with friends, lace on a pair of virtual Air Force 1 sneakers and win medals. Rappers Lil Nas X and Travis Scott have also held concerts last year for millions of virtual concertgoers.

For the socialite and reality TV-star turned entrepreneur, Paris World is the latest venture launched by her new media company, 11:11 Media. She and veteran media executive Bruce Gersh aim to capitalise on the burgeoning creator economy, in which celebrities like Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James leverage their influence to produce films, television shows and podcasts, brand marketing and to sell merchandise.

Hilton is most widely known for the reality television show “The Simple Life,” in which she and celebrity socialite Nicole Richie ditched their limos to travel America aboard a Greyhound bus.

Hilton says the dumb blonde act was a put-on, “I was always in on the joke, but I knew exactly what I was doing. Behind the scenes, I was building a brand.”

She has leveraged her gossip pages notoriety into 19 different consumer product lines, including perfumes, apparel, lingerie, cosmetics, sunglasses watches, shoes, handbags and jewelry, which together generated an estimated $4 billion (roughly Rs. 29,883 crores) in revenue over the past decade, the company disclosed.

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Investment-banker husband Reum introduced Hilton to Gersh, a former Walt Disney and Time executive, to create a media enterprise around one of pop culture’s original influencers.

Since those early discussions, 11:11 Media has launched “This Is Paris,” a podcast in which she speaks candidly about her family and friends, and a pair of reality TV series, “Cooking With Paris” on Netflix and “Paris In Love,” about her engagement and marriage to Reum.

Hilton has also tapped into the mania for non-fungible tokens, collaborating with designer Blake Kathryn to sell three unique pieces of digital art — one of which fetched in excess of $1.1 million (roughly Rs. 8.21 crores), according to online auction platform Nifty Gateway.

“The final piece of the digital space is the metaverse,” said Gersh. “ We think that there’s a real opportunity for Paris to influence, even at a younger level than who her core customer is. We’ve built a fantastic, whimsical world that we believe her fans and new fans will just love.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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Suspected Tornado Cash Crypto Mixer Developer Detained by Dutch Authorities: Details

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Suspected Tornado Cash Crypto Mixer Developer Detained by Dutch Authorities: Details

Dutch authorities on Friday said they had arrested a 29-year-old man believed to be a developer for the crypto mixing service Tornado Cash, which the United States put on its sanctions list this week. The US sanctions announced on Monday followed allegations that Tornado Cash was helping conceal billions in capital flows, including for North Korean hackers.

By mixing cryptocurrencies, the online service makes it possible to conceal the origin or destination of digital payments, increasing their anonymity.

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Tornado Cash is one of the largest crypto blenders identified as problematic by the US Treasury.

The Dutch public prosecutor’s office for serious fraud, environmental crime and asset confiscation (FIOD) said Tornado was suspected of having laundered more than $7 billion (roughly Rs. 55,700 crore) worth of virtual currency since it was created in 2019.

Tornado Cash did not reply to a request for comment.

The FIOD said the man, who was not identified, was arrested in Amsterdam on Wednesday. He is believed to have helped facilitate criminal transactions, including “funds stolen through hacks by a group believed to be associated with North Korea.” He faces money laundering charges.

In June the Financial Advanced Cyber Team division of the FIOD started an criminal investigation into Tornado Cash, the statement said. It found Tornado Cash had been used to conceal large-scale criminal money flows, including from (online) thefts of cryptocurrencies.

Further arrests have not been ruled out, prosecutors said.

On Monday, The US Treasury sanctioned zero-knowledge proof-based private transaction protocol Tornado Cash for its complicity in a crypto laundering case.

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The digital currency mixing service has allegedly been used to launder more than $7 billion (roughly Rs. 55,700 crore) worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019, the Treasury said in announcing the enforcement action. That includes the more than $455 million (roughly Rs. 3,618 crore) stolen by the Lazarus Group, a state-sponsored hacker collective with ties to North Korea.

Monday’s move froze any US assets of the crypto mixer and generally bars Americans from dealing with it.


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Enforcement Directorate Freezes Crypto Platform Vauld’s Assets Worth Nearly Rs. 370 Crore: Details

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Enforcement Directorate Freezes Crypto Platform Vauld’s Assets Worth Nearly Rs. 370 Crore: Details

India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday froze $46.5 million (roughly Rs. 369.5 crore) in assets at the struggling Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Vauld. The country’s economic crime unit on Friday said in a press release that the frozen assets were parked in bank accounts, payment gateway balances, and wallets on the Flipvolt crypto exchange. The ED said it had conducted searches at several premises linked to the company, Yellow Tune Technologies Pvt. Ltd, over three days starting August 8.

“These amounts were nothing but proceeds of crime derived from predatory lending practices. Cryptocurrency so purchased was transferred to various unknown foreign wallet addresses,” stated the ED in a press release.

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“Lax KYC norms, loose regulatory control of allowing transfers to foreign wallets without asking any reason/declaration/KYC, non-recording of transactions on Blockchains to save costs etc, has ensured that Flipvolt is not able to give any account for the missing crypto assets,” it added.

The enforcement agency said the frozen assets that belong to Vauld’s India entity would remain held until it provides a complete fund trail.

It is worth noting that Flipvolt is the Indian arm of Singaporean crypto exchange Vauld, which suspended all deposits and withdrawals on its platform in June, following the collapse of the TerraUSD stablecoin and its sister token Luna.

Last week, assets on WazirX totalling $8 million (roughly Rs. 63.5 crore) were frozen by the ED. WazirX is among the first crypto platforms and one of the biggest exchanges in India, with volumes exceeding $43 billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,658 crore) last year.

Vauld CEO Darshan Bathija, in an email issued to stakeholders last month, said the exchange has accrued liabilities totalling $400 million (roughly Rs. 3,178 crore) against assets of just $330 million (roughly Rs. 2,622 crore).

He attributed the gap as the result of mounting losses brought on by exposure to the TerraUSD drop as well as a decline in other significant cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.

“We are investigating this matter, we kindly request your patience and support, we will keep you updated as soon as we have more information on this,” Vauld said in a statement sent to Business Today.

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Vauld is already facing financial troubles and has halted withdrawals since July. The platform obtained a three-month moratorium extension from the Singapore High Court to explore different options a few days ago.


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UN Development Body UNCTAD Believes Banks Should Be Banned From Holding Crypto

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UN Development Body UNCTAD Believes Banks Should Be Banned From Holding Crypto

The United Nation’s development arm, UNCTAD, believes that banks should be banned from holding crypto while suggesting that developing countries should implement extensive restrictions on the usage of cryptocurrencies, given the risks they pose to tax collection. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in a series of reports published on Thursday, warns that the rising use of crypto for domestic payments and by migrant workers sending funds back home poses a challenge to states’ authority in monetary matters, which may lead to “leakage” of development funds.

The agency suggests a volley of regulatory curbs that we’ve already seen a number of countries take, although not all at once. These include imposing higher taxes on crypto transactions, requiring exchanges and wallets to register with regulators, and curbing or forbidding crypto ads.

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“The benefits that cryptocurrencies may bring to some individuals and financial institutions are overshadowed by the risks and costs they entail, particularly in developing countries,” UNCTAD said, citing risks such as tax evasion and losses from price swings that might need to be bailed out by central banks.

As highlighted by a CoinDesk report, the document advises countries to “ban regulated financial institutions from holding stablecoins and cryptocurrencies or offering related products to clients.”

By virtue, stablecoins are essentially cryptocurrencies that aim to maintain their value with respect to an established fiat currency such as the US dollar – but as seen in the recent collapse of terraUSD, they don’t always manage to do so.

Figures cited by UNCTAD show crypto is particularly popular in Russia, Ukraine and Venezuela — three countries affected by sanctions, war and hyperinflation. As of November 2021, 41 developing countries had either prohibited banks from dealing in crypto or prevented exchanges from offering crypto to retail investors, and nine have banned crypto outright, the report said.


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