Circle Reserves Over $10 Million to Settle SEC’s Case Against Poloniex

Circle Reserves Over $10 Million to Settle SEC’s Case Against Poloniex

Circle also disclosed in a regulatory filing with the SEC that it is being investigated by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces US sanctions.

USDC stablecoin issuer, Circle, has set aside more than $10 million to settle a case against its discontinued cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), according to a regulatory filing.

The Boston-based company sold Poloniex in 2019 after acquiring it just the previous year. On its sale, Circle recorded a realized loss of $156.8 million and said the disposal was to “divest from businesses related to speculative cryptocurrency trading” and to “better align” its business with the products it offers, according to a regulatory filing to the SEC earlier this month.

The agency filed a complaint against Poloniex back in Dec. 2017, at the height of the bull market, related to the trading of cryptos that may be characterized as securities. In March, the exchange offered to settle the case for $10.4 million.

In the filing, Circle further disclosed that it is being investigated by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces US sanctions.

Back in 2019, the company said it received administrative subpoenas from OFAC and an Iranian government agency, looking into possible violations related to registered exchange accounts for people in embargoed jurisdictions and for processing transactions that may have violated sanctions.

Circle expects to pay between $1.1 million to $2.8 million to settle these matters and has put away at least $1.1 million to do so, it said in the filing.

A few months back in May, Circle hired Mandeep Walia, who most recently served as compliance chief for Facebook-backed stablecoin Diem’s digital wallet, as its new chief compliance officer amidst the increased oversight.

Earlier this month, Circle announced that it would go public in a $4.5 billion SPAC merger. On Tuesday, it also published the breakdown of its reserves backing the stablecoin with 61% in cash and cash equivalents.

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Author: AnTy

Green Bitcoin Miner Planning to Raise $200 Million Ahead of Nasdaq Direct Listing This Year

Green Bitcoin Miner Planning to Raise $200 Million Ahead of Nasdaq Direct Listing This Year

Iris Energy Pty has also signed new mining equipment-related contracts that would push its mining capacity from the current 0.7 exahash, which is on track to rise to 4.5 exahash by 2022-end, to 15.2 exahashes per second in a few years.

Bitcoin miner Iris Energy Pty, which uses renewable energy to mine the cryptocurrency, is planning to raise about $200 million in a new fundraising round before seeking a direct listing on the Nasdaq.

A few months back in March, Iris Energy raised A$20 million ($15 million), citing strong investor demand, which was enlarged again to raise $110 million ultimately.

The Sydney-based company is currently working with an adviser on the round and has met with prospective investors, reported Bloomberg citing people familiar with the matter. The proceeds will help them with the listing as soon as this year.

Back in May, co-founder and executive director Daniel Roberts said that the company was exploring Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPAC). But now, it is opting for a private placement as a SPAC deal would dilute the stakes of existing investors. In a direct listing, no new shares are offered.

The company has also signed new contracts regarding mining equipment that will allow it to reach a capacity of 15.2 exahash operations per second within some years. It’s on track to reach 4.5 exahash by the end of 2022, up from the current capacity of 0.7 exahash.

Iris Energy’s flagship project is a 50-megawatt data center in British Columbia, Canada, where most electricity comes from hydroelectric power.

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Author: AnTy

Russian Ransomware Group, REvil, Attacks 200 Firms, Demands $70 Million in Bitcoin

Russian Ransomware Group, REvil, Attacks 200 Firms, Demands $70 Million in Bitcoin

Russian-based ransomware group REvil has again attacked no less than 200 firms in its latest operation. The group is demanding a ransom of $70 million in Bitcoin as ransom to release the stolen data.

Firms Hacked Through Software Supplier Kaseya

According to Reuters, REvil targeted software supplier Kaseya and used its technology management software to spread the ransomware via the cloud.

One of Kaseya’s tools, VSA, used by several firms, was encrypted with infected files, paralyzing hundreds of firms.

“More than a million systems were infected. If anyone wants to negotiate about universal decryptor – our price is $70 million in Bitcoin,” the ransomware group said as reported in a dark website, Happy Blog.

Updating firms on the incident, Kaseya said it was working on a patch that would increase the security of its VSA server. It also advised its customers to continue to remain offline until it is safe to restore operations.

Ransomware attacks by REvil have been constant these past few months. In May, the Russian group attacked a major pipeline firm, Colonial Pipeline, and received a $5 million ransom after spurring a gas crisis in the US.

That same month, JBS Holdings, the world’s largest meat company, was also attacked by the same group, which led to an $11 million ransom payment.

CNA Financial. CNA, one of the largest insurance companies in the US, reportedly paid $40 million in Bitcoin to restore access to its network after a ransomware attack.

Biden Taking Ransomware Attacks Seriously

Over the past few months, US president Joe Biden and his administration have taken a more serious stance on ransomware attacks.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) had previously said that it would start treating these attacks with the same urgency it treats terrorism.

US Officials have spent the past few months scrutinizing these crimes while also tracing payments. Last month, the officials disclosed that they had recovered most of the $4.4m ransom paid to the hackers responsible for the Colonial Pipeline attack.

In a bid to curtail these attacks, last month, President Biden also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss and proffer solutions. Biden had told Putin that if ransomware attacks continued and were found to be from Russia, there would be consequences.

During a recent public appearance, Biden said that he had directed the US intelligence agencies to investigate the ransomware matter.

Biden’s statements come after the US Department of State’s official Victoria Nuland spoke about the Colonial Pipeline hack. In a meeting with Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele, Nuland said the US State Department was taking a tough look at bitcoin due to the Colonial Pipeline ransomware hack.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

SoftBank Invests $200 Million in Latin America Crypto Exchange

SoftBank Invests $200 Million in Latin America Crypto Exchange

This fresh capital will be used to scale Mercado Bitcoin’s operations, expand its offerings, and invest in infrastructure to meet the rising demand for cryptocurrency in the region.

Japan’s Soft Group Corp. has invested $200 million in one of Latin American’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, Mercado Bitcoin.

According to Roberto Dagnoni, executive chairman and chief executive officer of 2TM Group, the parent company of the exchange, it was part of the firm’s Series B funding round.

SoftBank made the investment through its Latin American Fund, which represents the Japanese multinational company’s largest investment in a Latin American crypto company.

With this funding round, 2TMhas reached a valuation of $2.1 billion.

Launched in 2013, Mercado Bitcoin has grown its client base to 2.8 million in 2021, over 70% of the entire individual investor base in Brazil’s stock exchange, 2TM said.

During the first five months of the year, about 700,000 new customers signed up to use Mercado Bitcoin’s services, and the company’s trading volume increased to $5 billion, more than the total for its first seven years combined, it said.

This latest investment from SoftBank comes at a time when the cryptocurrency market is in capitulation after experiencing a drawdown of as much as 50% to 75% from their all-time highs while money continues to flow into the private crypto market as investors bet on the long-term growth of the industry.

Dagnoni remains unfazed by the sideways price action going on in the crypto market, saying, “We are strong believers in the fundamentals of crypto.”

Meanwhile, the fresh capital will be used by Mercado Bitcoin to scale its operations, expand its offerings, and invest in infrastructure to meet the rising demand for cryptocurrency in the region.

The company is looking at regional expansions in Latam and expansions via mergers and acquisitions while focusing on custody which is “very important in releasing the power of the institutional market,” said Dagnoni in an interview with Reuters.

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Author: AnTy

US Financial Regulator Slams $70 Million Fine On Robinhood for Misleading Customers

US Financial Regulator Slams $70 Million Fine On Robinhood for Misleading Customers

The US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has slammed a $70 million fine on trading platform Robinhood.

According to the statement released, Robinhood was authorized to pay the penalty for misleading customers, systemwide outages, and trading practices.

Most Severe Fine Imposed by FINRA?

The $70m fine is the highest penalty FINRA has imposed on any firm. This emphasizes the seriousness of the matter, as stated by Jessica Hopper, head of FINRA’s department of enforcement. Hopper noted in the release,

“The fine imposed in this matter, the highest ever levied by FINRA, reflects the scope and seriousness of Robinhood’s violations, including FINRA’s finding that Robinhood communicated false and misleading information to millions of its customers.”

FINRA explained that the online broker caused widespread and significant harm to thousands of users, including millions of customers who received false or misleading information from the firm.

The false information includes allegations that Robinhood misrepresented margin trades, customer’s cash holdings in the app accounts, the risk of loss in options transactions, the extent of the buying power users had, and information regarding margin calls.

FINRA further stated that millions of customers were also affected by Robinhood’s systems outages in March 2020.

According to the self-regulatory body, the $70 million fine would be split. Robinhood had been ordered to pay $57 million in fines; almost $13 million would be paid in restitution to customers.

These customers include those who reported seeing inaccurate negative cash balances in their accounts and those affected by Robinhood’s outages.

Many customers had reportedly lost thousands of dollars in trades during these outages as they were unable to trade equities, options, or cryptocurrency at that time. Robinhood was offline during some of the highest volume trading days with significant volatility.

According to the agency, Robinhood neither admitted nor denied the charges but instead consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings.

Responding to FINRA’s investigations, Robinhood said it had invested heavily in improving its platform stability while also building out its customer support and legal and compliance teams.

This is the second time FINRA would penalize Robinhood for trading violations. In December 2019, the regulatory body fined the online broker $1.25 million for violating best execution rules.

FINRA’s rule of best execution stipulates firms to use reasonable diligence in ascertaining the best market for their clients. Basically, the law states that brokers must put clients’ interests first in all dealings.

Robinhood’s Issues With Regulators Amid IPO Plans

The penalty slammed on Robinhood comes as the firm plans to go public. The online broker still hasn’t confirmed the exact date for its listing, but according to CNBC, the firm has chosen Nasdaq as its preferred exchange.

The popular trading app initially wanted to launch its IPO in June but has now postponed the offering to July, which is still uncertain. This is due to the scrutiny and delayed review from the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

A Bloomberg report says the SEC has been delaying Robinhood’s review in recent weeks as it scrutinizes the broker’s growing cryptocurrency arm.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

BitDAO Raises $230 Million in a Funding Round Led by PayPal Co-Founder, Peter Thiel

BitDAO Raises $230 Million in a Funding Round Led by PayPal Co-Founder, Peter Thiel

  • The quiet market keeps rumbling as investors unload large amounts of cash on yet another blockchain project!

Led by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, BitDAO, a new decentralized governance protocol, raised $230 million in a bid to build the largest asset pool led by a decentralized autonomous organization, commonly referred to as DAOs.

The funding round welcomed top investors alongside Thiel, who led the round, and three of his firms – Founders Fund, Pantera Capital, and Dragonfly Capital – also participated in the raise. Other investors in the round included hedge fund manager Alan Howard, Jump Capital, and Spartan Group.

A DAO represents an organization that has no central organization leading it. Instead, the governance of these organizations lies coded on smart contracts stored on a blockchain hence have immutable properties. BitDAO, now ranking as one of the largest DAOs, aims to “promote and propel the mass adoption of open finance and decentralized tokenized economy” with the latest funding, a statement reads.

The core objective of the funding is to grow the decentralized finance (DeFi) space by building research and development (R&D) centers, providing grants to DeFi developers, and topping up liquidity on blockchain projects.

In a press release, BitDAO stated its goal to promote and support the DeFi sector financially and in talent resourcing to boost industry growth. Moreover, the organization will also use the funding to employ hundreds of people innovating in the DeFi sector and solve various developmental challenges in the ecosystem.

The firm welcomed its first partner in the Bybit crypto exchange, one of the largest digital asset exchanges in the world. Bybit aims to make yearly contributions to the DAO of up to 2.5 basis points (bp) of its futures contracts’ trading volume directly to the BitDAO Treasury. As of current figures, the yearly contribution is expected to generate over $1 billion annually, the statement further reads.

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Author: Lujan Odera

2.3 Million UK Adults Now Hold Crypto Assets, 10.5% More than Last Year: FCA Report

2.3 Million UK Adults Now Hold Crypto Assets, 10.5% More than Last Year: FCA Report

The UK’s financial regulator reported a positive attitude towards crypto, with 38% of investors considering their stake in them as a gamble, versus 47% last year. Also, compared to 15% last year, only 11% regretted buying cryptos.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released a detailed report on cryptocurrency, noting that more and more people are now investing in cryptocurrencies.

According to the financial regulatory body, an estimated 2.3 million adults (4.4%) in the UK now hold crypto assets, up from 1.9 million last year. Bitcoin is the most common asset at 66%, followed by Ethereum (35%), Litecoin (21%), XRP (18%), and Bitcoin Cash (15%).

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In total, an impressive 78% of adults have now heard of crypto assets – up from 73% last year.

“Today’s crypto asset report from the FCA paints an interesting picture of developments in the crypto asset market in the UK in the last year,” said eToro’s Dan Moczulski. “These numbers show it has gone truly mainstream in the UK.”

More than half of those who are already invested were considering buying, even more, the research found. Also, fewer people regretted buying cryptos, down from 15% to 11%.

FCA’s research further notes that attitude towards crypto is changing, with 38% of investors currently considering their stake in crypto assets as a gamble, down from 47% last year.

Moreover, it found that about 14% of crypto buyers surveyed said they borrowed to invest.

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The regulator is now issuing a warning that these investments are not regulated and, “If consumers invest in these types of products, they should be prepared to lose all their money.”

One in 10 who had heard of crypto actually said they are aware of consumers warning on the FCA website. While most consumers recognize that crypto investments are not protected, 12% of crypto users believe otherwise. The report noted,

“The 2021 research follows heightened public interest and media coverage, alongside continued growth of the cryptocurrency market, including high cryptocurrency prices. It also comes after more widespread involvement of financial services firms in the market, and significant institutional investment. With these trends in mind, it is unsurprising that our research shows that both ownership and awareness have risen.”

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Bitcoin is currently trading around $39k, down 40% from its all-time high in April. The total cryptocurrency market is around $1.65 trillion, down just under $1 trillion from its peak of $2.55 trillion last month.

While the crypto market expects the space to mature with the entry of institutional investors and experience shallower and shorter bear markets, billionaire investor Mark Cuban recently called for bigger downsides, comparing the current market dynamics to the internet boom.

“We always talk about the crypto winters or these big declines in pricing. We ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Cuban.

“In every category, there was a ton of competition, but it really was a zero-sum game. Maybe one big winner, and a couple of follow-up number twos, and then the other 90% going out of business.”

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Author: AnTy

Kyber Network To Launch On Polygon With $30 Million Liquidity Mining Program

Kyber Network To Launch On Polygon With $30 Million Liquidity Mining Program

Decentralized finance liquidity hub Kyber Network would expand to Ethereum layer 2 scaling solution Polygon network later this month.

The Kyber community is said to have voted in favor of the move according to the Kyber Improvement Proposal for the expansion.

Kyber’s New Program Aimed At Enhancing DeFi Liquidity

Kyber also disclosed that it would be rolling out its first liquidity mining program called Rainmaker on the platform’s Dynamic Market Maker (DMM) protocol. This would be launched on Polygon on June 30th to mark Kyber’s expansion into the network.

The DMM is an improvement of an automated market maker design. It enables users to trade ERC-20 tokens in capital-efficient liquidity pools that are less prone to impermanent loss and slippage.

According to the firm, the Rainmaker program aims to enhance the liquidity of Ethereum and Polygon-based decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystems.

The program will run for two months and distribute $30 million in rewards to liquidity providers on the Kyber DMM across both Polygon and Ethereum.

Under the program, 2.52 million Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) tokens worth about $5 million and another $500,000 worth of MATIC tokens will be distributed to liquidity providers (LPs).

Kyber would also allocate $25 million worth of rewards to liquidity providers for the existing Ethereum-based DMM.

Kyber becomes the latest of many other leading Ethereum-native projects to join Polygon. Speaking on the Polygon partnership, co-founder of Kyber Network, Loi Luu, said,

“Through this partnership, Polygon’s vibrant ecosystem will gain access to the highly capital efficient and flexible Kyber DMM protocol, and we believe this will empower more liquidity providers, traders, and developers to effectively engage in the world of decentralized finance.”

DeFi Protocols Migrating From Ethereum To Polygon

Polygon has recently exploded in popularity as major DeFi protocols have switched to the layer 2 scaling solution to bypass higher fees and congestion on Ethereum.

According to data by blockchain data research firm Nansen, between June 1 and 7 alone, more than $1 million valued stablecoin transactions dominated 65% of daily transaction volume on Polygon.

This emphasizes the shift of large-valued players in the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector migrating from Ethereum to Polygon’s fast-growing ecosystem.

DeFi protocols such as Aave, Curve, Sushiswap, 1inch Network, and Ren have joined Polygon this year, attracting billions of dollars in liquidity.

Decentralized exchange 0x protocol also partnered with Polygon this year. The protocol launched an API tool to enable Ethereum-based DEXs to interact with the Polygon ecosystem.

The 0x API features DEX liquidity channels like SushiSwap, Dfyn, and Curve, as well as Dodo, mStable, QuickSwap, and Cometh.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Solana Leads $3M Funding Round in Blockchain Data Platform PARSIQ

Blockchain data monitoring startup PARSIQ has closed a funding round of $3 million, led by the Solana Foundation.

The funding round also included notable investors such as Axia8 Ventures, Mindworks VC, Krypital Group, CoinUnited, and others.

PARSIQ To Use Fund To Expand Product Suite

The PARSIQ platform allows users to customize their notification settings to block out undesired noise while receiving important information in real-time.

The blockchain data firm revealed that the fund raised would be used to expand its product suite.

PARSIQ tools include notifications for token transfers, price fluctuations, and other blockchain-related movements.

Apart from Solana, the PARSIQ tools are also compatible with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and some other blockchains.

Solana Founder Anatoly Yakovenko, while speaking on the investment, said access to blockchain data through apps like PARSIQ was critical.

He noted that PARSIQ would help developers of Solana-based projects worry less when building out their stack, allowing them to concentrate more on their product.

The investment into PARSIQ comes after Solana raised $314 million in a private token sale.

The sale was led by Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain Capital with participation from Alameda Research, Block change Ventures, CMS Holdings, Coinfund, and others.

Founded in 2017, Solana is an advanced open-source blockchain project focused on providing a highly scalable, secure, and maximally decentralized platform.

Dubbed the Ethereum killer, Solana has been active in building tools and networks for others to build on the platform.

It has several decentralized exchanges (DEXes) and protocols built on it such as Serum, Raydium, KIN, Audius, Mango Markets, Bonfida, Maps.me, Pyth Network, USDC, Phantom wallet, and more.

Solana Hackathon’s Step Finance To Aggregate With Solana’s DEXes

The Solana blockchain had attracted thousands of developers to its network, breaking records for the most number of participants in a hackathon this year.

The hackathon, in collaboration with Serum, had over 3,000 registrations and over 100 project submissions.

One of the projects that emerged from the Solana hackathon is Step Finance, a DeFi position manager and aggregator. Although Step Finance did not win any prize during the event, it appears to be doing very well.

Step Finance started aggregating Solana’s decentralized exchanges (DEXs), including automated market maker Raydium, SerumDex, and Orca, to give traders faster access to price information.

Step Finance’s trading dashboard, called the Step Dashboard, will enable traders to have access to $845 million of liquidity and execute trades quickly at low fees.

Earlier this year, the aggregator completed a private token sale for $2 million in a round that saw participation from various Solana backers including Almaeda Research and Raydium.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Block.one Settles its Class Action Lawsuit for $27.5 Million

Block.one Settles its Class Action Lawsuit for $27.5 Million

Block.one has made a $27.5 million settlement to resolve the class-action lawsuit launched by the Crypto Assets Opportunity Fund.

The lawsuit was related to the company’s token sale that took place between June 2017 and June 2018, in which it raised the biggest ever initial coin offering (ICO) funding of $4 billion and various subsequent matters. The company in a statement said,

“Block.one believes this lawsuit was without merit and filled with numerous inaccuracies. However, accepting this settlement allows us to focus more time and energy on running our business and delivering new products.”

Block.one is the creator of EOSIO and has been behind the cryptocurrency EOS, which has fallen to 26th place in the cryptocurrency market with a market cap of $4.5 billion.

From its all-time high of $2.71 on April 29, 2018, EOS is currently down more than 79%, trading at $4.71, as per CoinGecko.

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Author: AnTy