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Cryptocurrency Asset Firm Grayscale Sues SEC for Blocking Bitcoin ETF

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A firm billing itself as the world’s largest cryptocurrency asset manager has filed a legal challenge against US securities regulators after they denied an application to list a Bitcoin-focused fund on the stock exchange.

Grayscale filed a petition with a federal appeals court on Wednesday, after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the proposed fund did not meet the requirements for investor protection and lacked sufficient safeguards against fraud and manipulation.

The company wanted to list its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) fund on the New York Stock Exchange’s Arca trading platform as an exchange-traded fund, an investment fund that tracks the moves of specific assets, often focused on a particular sector.

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The company said the legal move was called for due to the SEC’s “arbitrary and capricious actions and discriminatory treatment of issuers.”

“We are deeply disappointed by and vehemently disagree with the SEC’s decision to continue to deny spot Bitcoin ETFs from coming to the US market,” Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein said in a statement.

GBTC’s ETF “would unlock billions of dollars of investor capital while bringing the world’s largest Bitcoin fund further into the US regulatory perimeter,” Sonnenshein added.

The SEC has rejected several requests similar to Grayscale’s in recent months, including from Fidelity, First Trust and SkyBridge Capital.

The price of Bitcoin has collapsed since the beginning of the year, recently falling below $20,000 (nearly Rs. 16 lakh) on Wednesday, compared with its all-time high of $69,000 (nearly Rs. 54 lakh) in November 2021.

The leading cryptocurrency, renowned for its volatility, has been weighed down by investors’ lack of appetite for risk in a market worried about inflation and rising interest rates in Europe and the United States.

Grayscale argues that the SEC decision is inconsistent with prior decisions allowing listing of several ETFs linked to Bitcoin futures contracts.

“If regulators are comfortable with ETFs that hold derivatives of a given asset, they should logically be comfortable with ETFs that hold that same asset,” the company said.

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Will crypto tax hurt the industry in India? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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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.


Why is Oppo making strange choices with its flagship Reno series? We discuss this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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