Advancing

Lawyers Want Bitcoin Money Laundering Charges Dropped on Technicality

Lawyers representing two Florida men charged with bitcoin-related money laundering want to have the charges dropped on a curious technicality. Adber Espinoza and Pascal Reid were arrested in February following an undercover sting operation. Police made the arrests after undercover officers took to LocalBitcoins.com posing as credit card fraudsters. Officers were looking for someone to launder their cash and buy bitcoins to fund illegal activities, namely to buy stolen credit card data. Having allegedly agreed, Reid and Espinoza both stand accused of laundering money and running an unregistered money service.

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued new guidance which classified bitcoin as ‘property’ rather than currency. However, even before the IRS statement bitcoin was not considered ‘money’, at least not in the eyes of the law. Lawyers representing Reid and Espinoza are planning to use this technicality to their advantage. The suspects have pleaded not guilty and their defence is now looking to have the charges dropped, since bitcoins are not defined as ‘money’, they argue money laundering legislation should not apply to them.

However, Miami-Dade County prosecutors disagree. They insist money laundering charges can stick and believe they fit the alleged crime. According to the IRS bitcoin guidance, issued on 25th March, digital currencies will be treated as property. However, this guidance only applies to federal taxes – general rules for property transactions still apply for bitcoin and other digital currencies. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle says this is the first time any state decided to bring money laundering charges in a case involving bitcoin.

Earlier this month a similar case was made by Joshua Dratel, Ross Ulbricht’s defence lawyer. Ulbricht is, of course, facing serious charges stemming from his association with online drugs bazaar Silk Road. Dratel argues that at least one count of money laundering against Ulbricht should be dismissed, citing FinCEN and IRS guidance as proof of his argument. However, the case against Ulbricht to that involving Reid and Espinoza – as they allegedly accepted cash for their services, while Ulbricht stands accused of dealing solely in bitcoin.

Standard
Advancing

Offer to Buy Mt. Gox for One Bitcoin?

A group of investors has offered to buy bankrupt Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, as part of a bid that will require the approval of its Japanese bankruptcy court. The investors are offering to pay 1 BTC for the troubled exchange.

It was reported that the investor group would assume all of Mt. Gox’s liabilities and obligations. In documents submitted to the Japanese bankruptcy court, the group reportedly outlined plans to resuscitate Mt. Gox, which included proposals for customers who hold outstanding claims against the exchange.

The single-bitcoin valuation is based on the premise that the true value of Mt. Gox is difficult to determine. Creditors will have two options. They can either receive a prorated amount from the 200,000 bitcoins recovered by Mt. Gox equal to roughly 20 percent of their claim, or obtain an equity stake of that amount in the revitalized Mt. Gox exchange. The investor group pledged to set aside 50% of transaction fees to pay back creditors over time.

The investor group behind the bid includes venture capitalist Brock Pierce, founder of a number of bitcoin-related businesses including KnCMiner and GoCoin, and the creator of a prominent bitcoin syndicate.

Other members of the group include John Betts, a former Morgan Stanley and Goldamn Sachs executive who would serve as the new Mt. Gox CEO, and William Quigley, managing director for Clearstone Venture Partners, a VC fund based in Santa Monica, California.

 

 

Standard
Advancing

Bitcoin Price Drops as Chinese Exchanges Stop Bank Deposits

The price of bitcoin on the CoinDesk USD Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) fell below $400 for the first time since November 2013 on 10th April, as major China-based bitcoin exchanges began reporting that they had received notice that their bank accounts would be shut down by banking partners. The initial drop occurred following an announcement from Chinese exchange BTCTrade.com, which was then corroborated by similar statements from Huobi and BTC100.org.

china, price, ban

The price of bitcoin has fallen rapidly in recent weeks, after rumors surfaced on 27th March that suggested the PBOC, China’s central bank, would be looking to more tightly enforce restrictions it passed in December meant to ensure a separation between its nationalized banking system and the nascent digital currency industry.

Though no official announcement of the new policy has been made, the statements from major exchanges suggest that the rumored 15th April deadline for the enforcement of this stricter rule interpretation is being enforced.

The price fell from $440 to $410 within a few hours of BTCTrade.com’s initial announcement, before fluctuating between $407 and $412. At 15:00 UTC, the price began to fall precipitously, tumbling from $406 to $389 by 15:15 UTC. Two hours later the price briefly climbed above $400 before sliding into the $390 range.

 

Via CoinDesk

Standard
Advancing

National Australia Bank Turns Back on Bitcoin, Closes Accounts

The National Australia Bank (NAB) has decided to dissociate itself from bitcoin, informing bitcoin-related customers it will be closing their accounts next month.

The news is significant as NAB was previously Australia’s most bitcoin-friendly bank, with their representatives actively seeking to build relationships with bitcoin businesses and working with them to understand digital currency issues like fraud prevention.

Australia’s banking industry is dominated by the ‘Big Four’ corporate banking groups: NAB, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac. Of the four, Commonwealth had previously been the one most hostile to bitcoin, while ANZ reportedly works with digital currency businesses on a case-by-case basis. Westpac’s policy remains unknown.

NAB produced a report on bitcoin for its currency traders last December, where it compared bitcoin and digital currencies with existing national currencies. The report was generally curious and neutral in tone, but said bitcoin would take a few more years to achieve mainstream acceptance.

The bank did not give a reason for its policy change, however Mizuho, one of Japan’s largest banks, may have spooked other large banks around the world when it was named as a defendant in the US class action lawsuit against departed exchange Mt. Gox. The complaint stated that by continuing to provide banking services to Mt. Gox, Mizuho “profited from the fraud”.

Standard