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Goldman Sachs Invests in Billionaire Alan Howard’s Crypto Trading Platform, Barclays Joins In

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Goldman Sachs has, yet again, reinstated its support for the crypto industry by leading an investment round in British billionaire Alan Howard’s Elwood Technologies. Based in London, UK, Elwood facilitates crypto trading along with other financial services. Along with Goldman, UK’s Barclays bank has also funded Elwood Technologies, betting on the future of cryptocurrencies. While the investment details from this funding round remain unclear, this funding did elevate Elwood’s market valuation to reportedly $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,894 crore).

In totality, this fresh funding round fetched $70 million (roughly Rs. 545 crore) for Elwood Technologies. Down Capital as well as venture units of Commerzbank AG and billionaire Michael Novogratz Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd, a crypto merchant bank, emerged as other investors who participated in the funding round, Bloomberg reported.

As per James Stickland, the CEO of Elwood Technologies has linked bagging this investment as a testimony to the bright future of crypto.

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“We’re getting investment from financial institutions that aren’t expecting to get massive returns in 15 minutes. They’re investing in the infrastructure. I think it’s a reassurance message, another validation of the longevity of crypto,” Stickland was quoted as saying.

Elwood, that initially started with the intention of providing asset management and crypto fund portfolios for institutional crypto investors, is looking to tweak its operations with the newly acquired capital.

The platform now sells homegrown technologies to manage crypto investments to other clients. The technologies were developed to help the company manage its own crypto holdings.

Meanwhile, leading the investment round for Elwood, Goldman Sachs has added another crypto-centric step to the many others that the Wall Street-backed American lender has taken in recent days.

In April, the 153-year-old bank historically issued its first ever Bitcoin-backed loan in order to contribute to the institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies. The loan was granted to Coinbase crypto exchange.

The lender said that it is looking to tokenise real-life assets as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Despite the recent crypto market slowdowns, investments on related companies have not ceased.

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Recently, Singapore-based crypto exchange KuCoin raised fresh capital of $150 million (roughly Rs. 1,158 crore) in a pre-Series B funding round.

Last week, Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX, purchased 7.6 percent stake in Robinhood crypto-stock exchange.

Crypto venture capitalist Dragonfly Capital has also vouched to launch its biggest fund yet, with a valuation of $650 million (roughly Rs. 4,975 crore) to help fund promising crypto startups.

Market analysts have also time and again highlighted, that more institutional investments will bring more credibility to the crypto sector.


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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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