ProBit Bits — ProBit Global’s Weekly Blockchain Bits Vol. 55

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 Iran Revives Proposal to Use Cryptos for Imports

Remember when Iran announced that Bitcoin would be accepted as a means to pay for the importation of items like vehicles instead of fiat currencies like the US dollar or euro? Well, local media reports suggest last week that the plan had some delays and hence could not be implemented in the fall of 2022 after the country placed its first official import order in cryptocurrency. Now, with permission from the Central Bank of Iran, a dedicated platform has been launched for local businesses to transfer cryptocurrency for the purpose of cross-border settlements. 

 Crypto Appears Prominent in Kidnap Cases

A crypto portfolio manager from a Dubai company was last week reportedly abducted during his vacation in Malaga, as per Spanish media reports. The kidnappers demanded a €1 million ransom but were later intercepted by the police after the victim managed to discreetly capture and shared a photo that revealed his location.

In another crypto-related kidnap case, a Vietnamese court in Ho Chi Minh City on May 10 tried a gang comprising 16 members, including two local policemen, who were accused of plotting a car accident to steal cryptocurrencies. The mastermind of the gang allegedly eavesdropped on the victim's financial losses after investing 1,000 BTC in a trade. He and his family were later kidnapped, as the gang stole approximately $1.5 million worth of crypto in the robbery.

 IRS Slams $44 Bn Claims on FTX, Affiliates

Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX and its disgraced founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, are not likely to be off the hook anytime soon. Last week, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lodged claims amounting to approximately $44 billion against the estate of FTX and its affiliated entities. These include $20.4 billion and $7.9 billion claims against Alameda Research LLC, as well as two other claims totaling $9.5 billion against Alameda Research Holdings.

 Ex-Coinbase Employee Gets Jail Time for Insider Trading  

Ishan Wahi, a former Coinbase exchange product manager, was last week sentenced to two years in prison for his part in an insider trading case, Reuters reported.

Ishan Wahi is the brother of Nikhil Wahi who was sentenced to 10 months in prison for using misappropriated information about crypto asset listings on Coinbase to make illegal profits in a case that was described as the first for a defendant to admit guilt in an insider trading case involving the cryptocurrency markets (see ProBit Bits Vol. 22 for more).

Wahi’s verdict came as a Moroccan court upheld a 2021 conviction of a French man for “fraud” and “illegal use of cryptocurrencies” after using Bitcoin to buy a luxury car and bagged an 18-month jail time.

Do Kwon Enters Not Guilty Plea, Gets Bail

TerraForm Labs’ Do Kwon last week entered a plea of not guilty to the charge of using forged travel documents in a Montenegro court. The next hearing is scheduled for June 16. Local media reported that the court accepted the bail of $436,000 for both Kwon and Hon Chand Jun were released after paying the bail amount. Kwon and Jun were apprehended in March for using counterfeit Costa Rican travel documents while boarding a flight to Dubai. In Montenegro, the use of forged documents carries a potential prison sentence of up to five years as per the country's law.

 Irish Central Bank Classes Crypto Assets Into Two

To bring some clarity to its crypto risk protection efforts in Ireland, the country’s central bank governor, Gabriel Makhlouf, last week indicated their plan to categorize crypto assets into those that are ‘backed’ and ‘unbacked’. To differentiate between them, Makhlouf notes that they are “open towards the potential of ‘backed crypto’” which include Electronic Money Tokens (EMTs) and Asset Reference Tokens (ARTs) under MiCA.  For ‘unbacked crypto’ (as well as poorly or unreliably-backed crypto), he suggests their claimed benefits “should be treated with a large dose of scepticism” and likened their purchase to a lottery ticket which could bring a win or not. Elsewhere in the EU, the head of the government of Liechtenstein, Daniel Risch, disclosed last week that Bitcoin could become a means of payment in their country in the future. He notes that they may also accept Bitcoin deposits. 

 Hong Kong Set for Tight Crypto Regulation

Talking about regulation, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Chief Executive, Eddie Yue, told the Bloomberg Wealth Asia Summit last week that they plan to tightly regulate crypto in the city-state.

He said that though the strict regulations maintained on cryptocurrencies in recent years have now been adjusted to achieve a "reasonable and sustainable level", their allowing the crypto ecosystem to be created in Hong Kong with the aim to make them thrive does not mean light-touch regulation.

Yue also mentioned that additional instructions for banks regarding their engagement with crypto customers are being developed, and the Securities and Futures Commission is soon expected to reveal its findings on the extent of retail investor involvement.

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