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Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel for Undisclosed Figure

November 13, 2018 |

Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel for Undisclosed Figure

Bitcoin Group SE has bought 100 percent shares of investment bank Tremmel for an undisclosed amount. This is the German digital currency exchange operator’s second acquisition in 2018. Bitcoin Group, which holds current assets of $ 40 million, said Tremmel allows it to issue its own cryptocurrency-related products, conduct proprietary trading and operate bitcoin ATMs.

Also Read: Sompo Holdings Acquires 10% Stake in Kenyan Cryptocurrency Exchange Bitpesa

Acquisition to Expand Bitcoin Group Services Portfolio

Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel for Undisclosed Figure

The Frankfurt Stock Exchange-listed company operates Bitcoin.de, Germany’s only regulated digital currency exchange, trading BTC, BCH and ETH. It hopes to use Tremmel’s banking license to expand the range of its service portfolio. For example, Bitcoin Group said it is now possible for the trading platform to maintain an order book and even quote prices, while simultaneously ensuring more liquid trading.

“We are very pleased that in Tremmel Wertpapierhandelsbank Gmbh…we have been able to gain an excellently positioned partner with in-depth knowledge of the market,” Marco Bodewein, managing director of Bitcoin Group, said in an online statement on Nov. 12. “This will enable us to take the corporate development of Bitcoin Group SE to a new level,” he added.

Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel for Undisclosed Figure

The deal is expected to be completed in the first half of 2019, subject to approval by relevant regulatory authorities. Bitcoin Group did not disclose the actual purchase price, but said “it is in the lower seven-digit euro range.”

Rainer Bergmann, the previous sole shareholder and managing director of Tremmel, is to continue working at the investment bank in the same capacity. The bank, which trades shares, bonds and other stock exchange products on behalf of local and foreign banks, insurance companies and asset managers, will be expanded into a deposit-taking institution, Bitcoin Group said.

Restructuring

Digital currency exchanges are looking for growth in new areas or to consolidate existing positions to help boost revenue and minimize risk from an uncertain regulatory environment in their home economies.

Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel for Undisclosed Figure

In January, Bitcoin Group, which has 753,000 investors actively using its exchange to buy and sell digital assets, bought a 50 percent stake in financial investment broker Sineus Financial Services Gmbh, to diversify risk. “In the future, this will enable the group to offer additional financial services in the cryptocurrency sector,” the company said at the time.

For the first six months of this year, Bitcoin Group reported net profit increase of 306 percent to $ 3.85 million from $ 0.95 million a year earlier. Revenues tripled to $ 6.57 million from $ 2.1 million in the comparable period a year ago. Operating profit climbed 368 percent to $ 5.64 million. The exchange said about $ 707.6 million worth of BTC was traded on the platform at the end of last year, when the price of the cryptocurrency peaked at $ 20,000.

After close Tuesday, shares of Bitcoin Group were down 0.36 percent at $ 31.41 in Frankfurt trading. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has reached a low of $ 28.02 and a high of $ 97.18.

What do you think about Bitcoin Group’s latest acquisition? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Bitcoin universe is vast. So is Bitcoin.com. Check ourWiki, where you can learn everything you were afraid to ask. Or read our news coverage to stay up to date on the latest. Or delve into statistics on our helpful tools page

The post Bitcoin Group SE Buys Investment Bank Tremmel for Undisclosed Figure appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Digital Bank Revolut Surpasses 3 Million Customers

November 13, 2018 |

Digital Bank Revolut Surpasses 3 Million Customers

U.K. startup Revolut has announced that its customer base has surpassed three million users. The fintech platform, which has quickly become a viable online alternative to traditional banking, was established in 2015. It currently offers payment and exchange services for a growing number of fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies.

Also read: Huobi Opens in Russia, Plans Startup Accelerator and Mining Hotels

Fintech Startup Defies Skepticism

The company marked the milestone on Twitter: “Three years ago, banks and investors laughed at us. Today, we have signed up three million customers and no one is laughing now. Thank you!” The announcement came about three months after Revolut launched a new debit card that offers support for some of the leading digital coins.

Revolut Metal is the platform’s premium service. For a monthly fee of €13.99 (less than $ 16), users can get a free U.K. current account and an Iban account for euros, with unlimited exchange in 24 fiat currencies. The new card also offers access to five cryptocurrencies — bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and ripple (XRP) — as well as the ability to spend over 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate.

Digital Bank Revolut Surpasses 3 Million Customers

The contactless Revolut Metal card comes with fee-free ATM withdrawals of up to €600 per month (over $ 670). According to the product page, the online banking startup also offers cardholders cash back on all their payments and purchases — up to 0.1 percent within Europe and up to 1 percent elsewhere.

The launch of the exclusive card, which supports digital assets and can be used anywhere that Mastercard is accepted, has likely played a role in the expansion of Revolut’s customer base. There are very few other options on the market in the European Economic Area matching the services offered by the U.K. company.

Plans for Expansion to Other Continents

Digital Bank Revolut Surpasses 3 Million CustomersRevolut’s platform is currently available to residents of the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. The company plans to enter markets outside Europe as well, including North America (U.S. and Canada) and Australia.

The British startup with Russian roots also plans to operate in the Russian Federation. In June, Revolut announced a partnership agreement with Qiwi, the country’s leading payments provider. Russian users will be granted access to Revolut’s services via Qiwi’s online banking infrastructure. It has been reported that in Russia, Revolut will initially only provide financial services to private individuals. At launch, they’ll be able to install the company’s online banking app and order a free Visa card with support for multiple currencies.

Revolut is likely to face some competition. Oleg Tinkov, the founder of a Russian project offering similar services, said at a recent fintech forum that there’s no reason for the U.K. startup to go to Russia. The holders of the Tinkoff Black card can already open accounts in 30 currencies and take advantage of favorable exchange rates. What Tinkov didn’t mention, as noted by news outlet Bitnovosti, was that his platform does not support cryptocurrencies.

Revolut’s Russian-born founder and CEO, Nikolay Storonsky, responded:

We are not going to abandon our plans … Large players see us as a serious competitor. They try to copy our products and break down into
emotions in our presence.

Storonsky, whose company raised $ 250 million at a valuation of $ 1.7 billion this past spring, also recently commented on the possible influx of institutional investors into the cryptocurrency space. The entrepreneur voiced skepticism over these expectations, as such players have not expressed much interest thus far. “I just don’t think banks will catch up,” he said.

One thing Storonsky’s unicorn startup has been criticized for is that its platform does not support transfers of cryptocurrencies to other wallets. Responding to another suggestion to introduce the feature in the comments below the “three million customers” tweet, Revolut admitted that it does not have any immediate plans to do so. However, it promised to pass the feedback over to its development team.

Do you think Revolut will expand its set of services related to cryptocurrencies? Tell us in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Digital Bank Revolut Surpasses 3 Million Customers appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

5 critical settings so hackers can’t access your bank accounts

November 11, 2018 |

You need to assume that your password isn’t strong enough. You might as well believe that someone, somewhere, is working around the clock to break into your accounts and steal your money, your identity, and anything else you have. Because it’s essentially true.
FOX News

The Daily: Shatner Dives Deep Into Crypto, Bank to Launch Digital Deposit Box

November 11, 2018 |

The Daily: Shatner Dives Deep Into Crypto, Bank to Launch Digital Deposit Box

In today’s edition of The Daily, we feature a story about William Shatner flaunting his vast crypto knowledge, from Tether to Kitties. Additionally covered are a bank which wants to offer a digital deposit box for exchanges and investment funds, a new development in the Charlie Shrem lawsuit and more.

Also Read: Marshall Islands President Attacked Over National Crypto Plan

Tether Blows Captain Kirk’s Mind

William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk, wants you to know that he knows his crypto. After admitting back in June that he doesn’t fully understand the bitcoin mining business he was getting into, Shatner has now gone on a tweet storm showing just how much he learned.

Besides discussing developments in smart contracts, Shatner also dropped a truth bomb on Tether (USDT). He wrote: “I know how smart contracts work. That’s really not hard. What’s more mind bending is Tether being (supposedly) linked to the dollar but being worth less than a dollar…”

Obviously having a lot of fun with this dive into the world of cryptocurrency, the TV star was also happy to engage with fans about Crypto Kitties. And after learning that he can breed them, Shatner joked that he is now waiting for the accessories, “the Crypto Kitty Dream House and the Crypto Kitty Corvette.”

The Daily: Shatner Dives Deep Into Crypto, Bank to Launch Digital Deposit Box

Canadian Bank to Launch Deposit Box for Exchanges

The Daily: Shatner Dives Deep Into Crypto, Bank to Launch Digital Deposit BoxVersa Bank (previously Pacific & Western Bank of Canada) is a Canadian chartered bank publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It announced on Thursday it has completed beta testing for its “digital safety deposit box” and is now starting to offer the new service to cryptocurrency exchanges and crypto-based investment funds. The company states it does not have the ability to ‘drill’ into a client’s deposit box, or to examine its contents.

President and CEO David Taylor stated: “While many are considering ideas and plans for a digital safety deposit box, we have designed and built it, and are now commercializing a first of its kind service that provides our clients with the most sophisticated security and authentication technology available globally, in which our clients enjoy absolute privacy. The Versa Vault will now begin rolling out services to cryptocurrency exchanges and crypto investment funds.”

Court Unfreezes Charlie Shrem’s Accounts

Earlier this month, it was reported that a U.S. federal court has ordered the freezing of Charlie Shrem’s accounts on Coinbase and Xapo. This was done after he was hit by a lawsuit alleging that the early bitcoin pioneer had stolen about 5,000 BTC from the founders of the Gemini exchange. But in what might be an indication of the merits of the allegations, the court has reversed the asset freezing order in a hearing on Thursday. Now Shrem can go back to his luxury shopping spree, and maybe get a third Maserati.

Cryptopay Mail Bomber

The Daily: Shatner Dives Deep Into Crypto, Bank to Launch Digital Deposit BoxLondon’s Metropolitan Police has revealed on Friday that a 43-year-old Swedish man was sentenced to six and a half years in jail for mailing a homemade bomb to a “Bitcoin company.” The Stockholm District Court found Jermu Michael Salonen guilty of attempted murder for sending a bomb to Cryptopay – a UK based crypto wallet and payment solution.

According to the Met Police, the motive for Salonen’s actions is that he was locked out of his account, unable to access his funds after losing his password. In August 2017 he asked Cryptopay to reset his password and send him a new one but the company refused as this contravened their privacy policy.

Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of the Met Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: “Salonen seemingly made and sent a device that had the capability to seriously harm and even kill over something as inconsequential as a change of password. Fortunately the bomb did not detonate. It was due to sheer luck that the recipient ripped opened the package in the middle rather than using the envelope flap which would have activated the device.”

What do you think about today’s news tidbits? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi’s Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com.

The post The Daily: Shatner Dives Deep Into Crypto, Bank to Launch Digital Deposit Box appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Federal Reserve official outlines plans to ease burden of bank stress tests prompted by financial crisis

November 9, 2018 |

Wall Street banks will have to wait a bit longer for regulators appointed by President Trump to make the Federal Reserve’s stress tests less stressful. Their reward for being patient could be many more concessions than the industry anticipated.

Randal Quarles, the Fed’s vice chairman for supervision,…


L.A. Times – Business

US Excludes Iran’s Central Bank from the Global Financial System

November 9, 2018 |

US Pressure Excludes Iran’s Central Bank from the Global Financial System

The Central Bank of Iran has been cut off from the global monetary system, after the Swift banking network bowed to U.S. pressure. The move leaves Iran’s 81 million citizens financially excluded and facing serious economic consequences, amidst renewed U.S. sanctions. America’s coercion of Swift attests to the stranglehold the nation exerts on the world economy, and the power it possesses to punish dissenters.

Also read: Minecraft-Like Platform Craft.cash Brings a 3D World to Bitcoin Cash

Swift Severs Ties With Iran

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, commonly known as Swift, is a network relied on by banks to funnel money all around the world. Headquartered in Belgium, it is meant to serve as an international cooperative society, and thus is not meant beholden to any single nation. The reality is quite different however. The U.S., as is its wont, has forced Swift to accede to its wishes and sever ties with Iran’s central bank, as its sanction-led battle with the Islamic nation heats up. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed the move on Nov. 8, tweeting:

Had Swift failed to follow the orders of its U.S puppet master, it could have succumbed to the same fate as Iran itself. “Swift could be subject to sanctions,” Mnuchin proclaimed last week. “Swift is no different than any other entity.” His comments reinforce the belief that no international organization is beyond the reach of American forces. The Swift money transfer system is open to all nations until the U.S. decides otherwise. In a statement made earlier this week, Swift explained:

In keeping with our mission of supporting the resilience and integrity of the global financial system as a global and neutral service provider, Swift is suspending certain Iranian banks’ access to the messaging system. This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system. Our mission remains to be a global neutral messaging provider.

Permissioned on Pain of Punishment

US Excludes Iran's Central Bank from the Global Financial System“Swift is an enforcement arm of the U.S. government,” tweeted bitcoiner Nic Carter in response to the news. “The current financial system is an extension of U.S. hegemony,” he continued. “It is a system that works for many, but not all.”

There are arguments that can be made for and against America’s decision to exert a financial blockade on Iran for funding militant groups in the Middle East. What is inescapable, however, is that the biggest victims of the Swift banking ban will be ordinary Iranians who are blameless, yet find their business and personal lives crippled by U.S. hegemony.

“Swift is the lifeblood of international payments,” said Thilo Brodtmann, executive director at Germany’s VDMA, an engineering association. “Any restriction, however small, on the neutrality of this system is unacceptable. Today Iran, tomorrow Russia and then China?”

America’s decision to impose harsh sanctions on Iran is a controversial one that even its closest allies are seeking to circumvent. The U.K., Germany and France are among five countries to have established a special purpose vehicle (SPV), an alternative system that will enable companies to continue trading with Iran. Iranians struggling to send and receive funds from family overseas have no such luxury however. Swift and SPVs are of little use to the ordinary man or woman on the streets of Tehran, to whom censorship-resistant money, such as decentralized cryptocurrency, can be literally a lifeline.

US Excludes Iran’s Central Bank from the Global Financial System

What are your thoughts on Swift’s Iranian banking ban? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The post US Excludes Iran’s Central Bank from the Global Financial System appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Cryptogem Global Defies Zimbabwe’s Central Bank with New P2P Bitcoin Exchange

November 8, 2018 |

Cryptogem Global, a new peer-to-peer bitcoin (BTC) exchange, has opened in Harare in defiance of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s ban on cryptocurrencies. The decentralized platform allows Zimbabweans to buy and sell BTC without the need for intermediaries such as legacy financial institutions.

Also Read: French Lawmakers to Lower Cryptocurrency Tax by 6 Percent

A Globalized Cryptocurrency Exchange

Cryptogem Global Defies Zimbabwe's Central Bank with New P2P Bitcoin Exchange

“Cryptogem Global is a … bitcoin trading platform where people around the globe can exchange their local currencies and e-money to bitcoin,” Melissa Mwale, co-founder and chief executive officer of Cryptogem Global, told news.Bitcoin.com.

Mwale said the idea is to create a borderless platform that will not limit trades to a particular country. Offering an example, she explained that the company aims to provide a service that will allow “someone in Zimbabwe to buy from someone in the U.K. using Paypal, Skrill or Western Union.”

For some time, virtual currencies have operated under a cloud of uncertainty in Zimbabwe. But the ban on cryptocurrencies — announced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in May — pointed to the start of a dark and unpredictable phase, as it crippled the operations of the country’s only two digital currency trading platforms, Golix and Styx24. Ever since, bitcoin trades in the southern African country have gone underground or shifted to social media platforms like Whatsapp, where the risk of theft or fraud is significantly higher.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the country’s central bank, essentially lacks the power to shut down cryptocurrency exchanges, which have been accused of providing unlicensed banking services, in violation of the Exchange Control Act. But the law does not allow it to ban cryptocurrencies, either. An earlier attempt by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to directly close down Golix was quashed by the High Court, which ruled that John Mangudya, the governor of the central bank, did not have jurisdiction over the country’s crypto-landscape.

Instead, the central bank shut the exchanges down by proxy, through commercial banks, over which it yields full control. It ordered the banks to close accounts belonging to Golix and Styx24, effectively cutting off their air supply. And with that, all centralized digital currency trading activities effectively ceased in the country.

Defying the Ban

Cryptogem Global Defies Zimbabwe's Central Bank with New P2P Bitcoin Exchange
Melissa Mwale

But Cryptogem is defying this backdoor ban in a particularly clever way. The P2P bitcoin exchange does not have any bank accounts, so the central bank can’t shut them down.

“Cryptogem does not have any bank accounts in Zimbabwe,” said Mwale, who has seen 300 new registrations on the platform within its first week, with total trades reaching about $ 2,000. Transaction fees average 0.9 percent for offers and 0.00005 BTC for deposits and withdrawals. She added:

There is actually no need for a bank account at the present moment, though we are registered fully as a private limited company in Zimbabwe. We don’t work with banks directly as we do not handle any fiat currency. And if you noticed, the (central bank) ban was mainly directed to using banking
services by exchanges.

However, the new exchange will be encouraged by Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe’s new finance minister. He has spoken positively about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

“I think the attitude for Zimbabwe should be to invest in understanding (digital assets) innovations,” said Ncube, a professor of economics, in an article published in September. “Often central banks are too slow in investing in these technologies.”

To trade on Cryptogem, one typically has to make a BTC deposit, offer and wait for bids that match the required price, or one that is favorable to them. Once a buyer shows interest, both buyer and seller are redirected to a private live chat on the exchange where details of the transaction, including payments, are finalized. The exchange then releases the BTC to the buyer, after holding it in escrow, once the seller confirms payment. News.Bitcoin.com tested the Crypotogem bitcoin-only interface in a $ 5 deal, which concluded smoothly within minutes.

Cryptogem Global Defies Zimbabwe's Central Bank with New P2P Bitcoin Exchange

The price of bitcoin on the exchange is significantly inflated, at between $ 20,000 and $ 24,000, which reflects exchange rate volatility. Current Zimbabwean bitcoin core prices appear to track the U.S. dollar black market rate, which is priced at three different levels depending on how the payment is made: by bank or mobile transfer, paper notes, and/or coins. Each dollar costs about three times as much for the cash transfer by bank or mobile phone of Zimbabwe’s substitute currency, known as “bond notes,” which the authorities claim is 1:1 with the U.S. dollar.

In a market that is sometimes plagued by fraud and the theft of investor funds, security is key. Mwale said that all accounts are secured with two-factor authentication.

“Only a very minimum amount of funds are kept online (hot wallet) just to facilitate quick withdrawals,” she added. “On application security, we have third-party security auditors that come in and audit security in our core application. Our server information is hidden from the public, it’s behind a firewall provided by one of the industry leaders in this regard.”

What do you think about the new P2P exchange in Zimbabwe? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


The Bitcoin universe is vast. So is Bitcoin.com. Check ourWiki, where you can learn everything you were afraid to ask. Or read our news coverage to stay up to date on the latest. Or delve into statistics on our helpful tools page

The post Cryptogem Global Defies Zimbabwe’s Central Bank with New P2P Bitcoin Exchange appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Measure to create L.A. public bank fails in setback for Council President Herb Wesson and advocates

November 7, 2018 |

Los Angeles voters rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed for the creation of a city-owned bank — a major setback for supporters of public banking and for City Council President Herb Wesson, who had made the bank one of his priorities.

Measure B, which would have amended the city charter…


L.A. Times – Business

Israeli Central Bank to Hold off on Issuing Digital ‘E-Shekel’ Coin

November 7, 2018 |

Israeli Central Bank Decides Against Issuing a National Cryptocurrency

A group under the Bank of Israel has published a report on a proposal to issue a national digital currency. The team, which was set up last November, has identified several potential advantages to the technology, but has advised the central bank not to act until other institutions throughout the world have done so first.

Also Read: Marshall Islands President Attacked Over National Crypto Plan

Pros and Cons of a National Cryptocurrency

Israeli Central Bank Advised to Delay Plan to Issue ‘E-Shekel’ NCryptocurrencyThe 40-page document mainly presents the advantages of issuing an “e-shekel” from the standpoint of the Bank of Israel. The first of these considerations would be to give the public access to the central bank’s liquidity, in the event that the use of physical cash ever declined significantly. Another would be to support the payments system in the country and make it more efficient. Additionally, the team found that “if it bears interest,” the e-shekel could become a monetary tool in the hands of the central bank.

The report also suggests that issuing an e-shekel could help combat the “shadow economy,” meaning it would make it harder for people to conduct unreported financial transactions. In contrast, among the limited disadvantages the writers of the report found, is the fear that the public would think that the move was just a “big brother” attempt to maintain constant surveillance on Israeli citizens.

Other concerns the team identified are that digital coins wouldn’t be accessible to people who are technologically challenged. They also expressed concern that a possible technical failure of the e-shekel could harm the central bank’s reputation.

Waiting for the Big Boys

Israeli Central Bank Advised to Delay Plan to Issue ‘E-Shekel’ NCryptocurrencyUnlike Israel’s dynamic, fast-moving and tech-focused private sector, the country’s public institutions are extremely conservative and usually reluctant to adopt new technologies. Considering this, it is no real surprise that the Bank of Israel has adopted a wait-and-see approach to digital currency, despite mainly finding advantages to potentially issuing one.

“No central bank in an advanced economy has yet issued digital currency for broad use,” the team concluded, while acknowledging that many such institutions around the world have already examined the possibility. This makes it clear that the Israeli central bankers won’t take a step forward until they see another leading institution such as the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank do so first.

Still, the possibility has not been taken off the table, as the same team will continue to monitor developments in the field, “particularly at other central banks.” And they plan to report their findings on the matter to the Bank of Israel’s management on a semi-annual basis. The group has also recommended discussing the subject with international bodies such as the Bank for International Settlements, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Monetary Fund.

Can digital coins issued by central banks ever become an alternative to decentralized cryptocurrencies? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi’s Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com.

The post Israeli Central Bank to Hold off on Issuing Digital ‘E-Shekel’ Coin appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Evade US Sanctions

November 7, 2018 |

ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Avoid US Sanctions

Malta’s Pilatus Bank has been shut down by the European Central Bank (ECB). Its banking license was revoked after its chairman was charged in the U.S. with money laundering and organizing a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions. The bank had also been accused by a murdered journalist of processing corrupt payments. EU authorities now want new powers to crack down on money laundering.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Pilatus Bank’s License Revoked

ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Evade US SanctionsMalta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) announced on Monday that the ECB has withdrawn the banking license of Pilatus Bank which has been operating in Malta for four years.

The Financial Times elaborated:

The move comes several months after U.S. authorities charged the bank’s Iranian-born owner and former chairman Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad with organising a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran by illegally funnelling more than $ 115 million from Venezuela to Iranian-controlled companies.

ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Evade US Sanctions“The bank was charged in the United States over money laundering and bank fraud,” Reuters added.

Although Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad pleaded not guilty and has been released on bail, MFSA removed him from his roles at the bank and froze the bank’s assets. In June, the regulator recommended revoking the bank’s license but faced numerous legal hurdles. On Monday, MFSA said that “the ECB had acted on its request to close the bank,” the Guardian wrote.

Pilatus Bank, which caters to wealthy clients, reported 308 million euros ($ 351.64 million) of assets in 2016, according to the bank’s annual report. Last year, it opened a branch in London after obtaining a U.K. banking license. The bank “was known to have held accounts for a senior official in the government of the Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and members of Azerbaijan’s ruling family,” the Financial Times detailed.

Murdered Journalist’s Case

ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Evade US Sanctions
Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Pilatus Bank had also been accused of “processing corrupt payments for senior Azeri and Maltese figures” by Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Reuters described.

Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in Malta a year ago. However, there has been no proven link between her murder and her story about the bank, the publication conveyed. Nonetheless, the event prompted the EU to begin investigating the bank in October last year.

“Three men suspected of killing her – brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio and their friend Vince Muscat – were arrested during a police operation in December 2017,” the BBC added.

Maltese Authorities Investigated

ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Evade US SanctionsThe ECB launched two investigations of how Malta dealt with Pilatus Bank last year, Reuters detailed. The first focused on MFSA but the case was closed in September “in part due to the vagueness of EU regulation,” European Banking Authority Chairman Andrea Enria told EU lawmakers.

The second investigation focused on the Maltese Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), the country’s anti-money laundering agency. Enria emphasized that this investigation has uncovered “serious shortcomings that the body did not remedy,” the publication noted. A senior EU official explained:

The European Commission reached preliminary agreement on Monday on new actions against the FIAU over its handling of the Pilatus case, which will force Malta to improve the way its anti-money laundering body operates.

Citing that U.S. authorities played a big role in uncovering alleged illicit banking activities in several European cases, the Guardian reported that “EU authorities want new powers to crack down on money laundering after a string of scandals in Estonia, Latvia and Malta.”

What do you think of the ECB shutting down Pilatus Bank? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Lovin Malta, FIAU, MFSA, and Pilatus Bank.


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The post ECB Shuts Down Maltese Bank Over Schemes to Launder Money and Evade US Sanctions appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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