As Ukraine’s crackdown on corruption continues, three lawmakers from Ukraine’s ruling party revealed this week that they own a combined $45 million in bitcoin, according to a report by RIA Novosti, a Russian foreign news service. Their holdings came to light during mandatory financial disclosures by members of the Ukrainian parliament, part of an IMF-approved strategy to tamp down corruption in Ukraine. The country’s democratic institutions, which were never very robust to begin with, have been further destabilized by the civil war that’s seen pro-Russian separatists seize control of two regions in eastern Ukraine. Lawmakers must now disclose their assets and wealth in an online database.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 16, 2017.
Mining bitcoins is a notoriously electricity-intensive process better suited for areas where resources are subsidized by the government (like the mountainous Northern China, where a cluster of some of the world’s largest mining pools are located), or are at least exceedingly cheap. Cities like New York, are, of course, not ideally suited for the task of mining. But then again, if you’re not paying for the electricity, then it may as well be free, right? *** That, essentially, was New York City teacher Vladimir Ilyayev’s plan when he started mining bitcoin on his work computer, running the software during the evening while monitoring it from home, according to CoinDesk, which discovered paperwork relating to Ilyayev’s hearing before the BOE’s Conflicts of Interest Board. ‘According to a recently published disposition from the City of New York Conflicts of Interest Board, department employee Vladimir Ilyayev admitted to mining bitcoin between for a period of several weeks between March and April 2014. Bitcoin mining is an energy intensive process by which new transactions are added to the blockchain, generating new coins with every block that is created.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 1, 2017.
As observed yesterday, one of the main reasons for the post New Year’s Day surge in Bitcoin to above $1,000 both in China and the US, is that over the past week, in order to further curb capital outflows, Beijing implemented a new set of capital controls according to which Chinese banks would be required to report all yuan-denominated cash transactions exceeding 50,000 yuan (around 7,100 US dollars) to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), down from the current level of 200,000 yuan, according to a PBOC document released on Friday. Cross-border transfers more than 200,000 yuan by individuals will also be subject to the report process. In terms of foreign currencies, the report threshold remains at the equivalent of 10,000 US dollars for both cash transactions and overseas transfers. Amusingly, as Xinhua reported over the weekend, “the policy stoked worries that the government is trying to impose capital control in a disguised form” to which PBOC economist Ma Jun had the following retort “It is not capital control at all.” Translation – it is. And that’s not all, because overnight, China’s currency regulators, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) added its own round of capital controls when it said that it wanted to close loopholes exploited for purposes such as money laundering and illegally channeling money into overseas property. While the regulator left unchanged quotas of $50,000 of foreign currency per person a year, citizens faced draconian new disclosure requirements from Jan. 1, first and foremost requiring foreign currency buyers to indicate how they plan to use the money and when they plan to spend it.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 3, 2017.
Bitcoin and banks were never supposed to go hand-in-hand. So, in 2015, when the world’s largest financial institutions began investigation the technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain, it took many people by surprise. Now, approximately two years after those efforts began in earnest, it seems there’s somewhat of a clash taking place between Bitcoin and the consortium through which the world’s largest banks investigate blockchain technology, R3. The blockchain consortium, whose main goal is to cut costs for the back office processes at major banks, seems to have no problem lobbying legal threats at members of the Bitcoin Community who do not follow the consortium’s line.
Last month the U. S. State Department launched the “American Innovation Roadshow” with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Senior members of U. S. Secretary of State’s John Kerry’s economic team led business delegations from financial investors, U. S. multinational and early stage companies. In two stunning speeches, the State Department began advocating the adoption blockchain technology. Ambassador David H. Thorne, senior adviser to the secretary of state, was among those attending the roadshow. The ambassador leads a departmentwide effort to ‘position economic and commercial issues more prominently within the U. S. foreign policy landscape’ and to ‘elevate the importance of entrepreneurship, technology and innovation in the State Department’s promotion of global prosperity.’ Thorne gave speeches at both the March 3 @America Innovation at Innovation and Entrepreneurship Presentations at Pacific Place in Jakarta, Indonesia and the March 7 Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology Innovation Conference in Hanoi. Speeches given by the ambassador encouraged these countries to adopt blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Both the Vietnam and Indonesia (prepared) remarks included the following similar, if not identical, recommendations: ‘…[W]e would like to encourage the development of new financial technology or ‘FinTech’ innovations – blockchain and distributed ledgers, mobile banking, etc – which will provide a backbone to the e-commerce activity … These kinds of tools naturally encourage fiscal and business transparency, not just for start-ups but for everyone, which is a key for reducing corruption and improving efficiency.’ Bitcoin Blockchain Advances Last year the White House named Dr. Ed Felten deputy U. S. chief technology officer. Felten was previously the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) at Princeton University, and is a well regarded Bitcoin researcher.
Russian software architects and entrepreneurs Alex Paperno, Eugene Porubaev and Vlad Kravchuk plan to take the insurance company out of insurance. Their Teambrella, a Bitcoin-based peer-to-peer insurance platform, allows users to provide each other coverage for whatever they want, however they want, and without requiring any trusted intermediaries. Paperno: ‘Anyone who ever needed a reimbursement knows that insurance companies are actually not interested in paying out at all; it’s not in their benefit to help their customers. We intend to remove that conflict of interest, and make insurance fair and transparent.’ ‘Team Coverage’ So, what is Teambrella? In essence, Teambrella is a platform that allows people to form teams that offer each other coverage. If one person within that team requires reimbursement, the rest of the team chips in to provide it. Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Paperno explained:
A group of Ukrainian officials signed a memorandum late last week to move multiple levels of elections to the Ethereum blockchain using E-vox, a platform developed by a group of companies including Ambisafe, Distributed Lab, and Kitsoft. The goal of this memorandum is to create “a decentralized, transparent and accessible system for group decisions making [sic] via blockchain-based instruments” for political primaries, elections and online petitions or referenda. This new platform could serve as a beacon of transparency and accountability in a polarized country ravaged by the “Orange Revolution,” a series of protests against corruption, voter intimidation and direct electoral fraud during the 2004 election of President Viktor Yanukovych. The list of signatories includes the head of the state agency for e-government, the Head of IT of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, an adviser to the president of Ukraine, a group of NGOs, and blockchain companies such as Ambisafe, Distributed Lab and KitSoft. While most blockchain and Bitcoin election platforms employ colored coins, E-vox will rely on smart contracts in order to fulfill a number of Ukrainian legal requirements. By involving major players in the Ukrainian government early in the process, Ambisafe CEO Andrey Zamovskiy doesn’t feel regulations or laws will hinder the implementation of E-vox.
Earlier this year, Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja released the Lightning Network white paper. In it they theorize how a layer on top of the Bitcoin blockchain can allow for instant and cheap bitcoin transactions, while vastly improving its scalability. As a result of the block-size limit debate, the Lightning Network has been getting a lot of attention lately. But, unfortunately, wild myths have started to dominate the discourse. Suddenly thrown in the middle of a long-lasting conflict of visions, Poon and Dryja’s concept is hailed both as the great savior solving all of Bitcoin’s problems – and as a source of deep corruption within Bitcoin’s development community. This article will not seek to explain how the Lightning Network is set to function on a technical level. Such explanations can be found here and here , and for those who really want to immerse themselves with all of the nitty-gritty details of how it all works, here. Rather, this article addresses 11 common myths surrounding the Lightning Network, in hopes of putting these to bed for good. Myth #1: Core developers are crippling Bitcoin to force users onto the Lightning Network. Although Poon and Dryja, along with several others, are currently realizing their own Lightning Network-based startup, Blockstream has been the only company funding the development of the Lightning Network so far. Specifically, the Bitcoin business with a $21 million seed round under its belt empoyed Paul ‘Rusty’ Russel to work on an implementation of the concept. Meanwhile, some of Bitcoin’s most prominent developers — such as Gregory Maxwell and Pieter Wuille — are on Blockstream’s payroll, too. This has led some to believe that Blockstream is working nefariously. It’s been alleged that the company is blocking any increase of Bitcoin’s block-size limit, as this will drive up transaction fees, forcing bitcoiners to use the Lightning Network instead. This logic, however, seems very farfetched at best.
This is one of those sad times when The Onion realizes it has badly, and permanently, missed its IPO window. Just released from the Department of Justice Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud Agents Were Part of Baltimore’s Silk Road Task Force Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that allowed users to conduct illegal transactions over the Internet. The charges are contained in a federal criminal complaint issued on March 25, 2015, in the Northern District of California and unsealed today. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U. S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Jos M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lori Hazenstab of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in Washington D. C. made the announcement. Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, was a Special Agent with the U. S. Secret Service (USSS). Both were assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity in the Silk Road marketplace. Force served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts.’ Force is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest. Bridges is charged with wire fraud and money laundering.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 03/30/2015.