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Riot Blockchain, Inc. (NASDAQ: RIOT), a company officially focused on cryptocurrency mining and the development of an exchange, has swiftly replaced its CEO after the SEC charged him in connection to a fraudulent $ 27 million pump an dump scheme.
$ 27 Million Pump and Dump Charges
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged a group of ten individuals on Friday for fraudulent schemes that generated over $ 27 million from unlawful stock sales and “caused significant harm to retail investors who were left holding virtually worthless stock.” According to the SEC’s complaint, the group of “microcap fraudsters” was led by Barry Honig who was once Riot’s largest shareholder and included John O’Rourke, its CEO.
Honig allegedly bought large quantities of stocks at steep discounts, and after securing a substantial ownership interest in the companies, the group engaged in illegal promotional activity and manipulative trading to artificially pump the stock prices and create the appearance of active trading volume. According to the complaint, they then dumped their shares, “reaping millions of dollars at the expense of unsuspecting investors.”
“As alleged, Honig and his associates engaged in brazen market manipulation that advanced their financial interests while fleecing innocent investors and undermining the integrity of our securities markets,” said Sanjay Wadhwa, Senior Associate Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “They failed to appreciate, however, the SEC’s resolve to relentlessly pursue and punish participants in microcap fraud schemes.”
On Saturday, Riot announced that Chris Ensey would be named its new CEO in connection with a “restructuring of the company’s senior executives.” The announcement, which didn’t mention the charges against the outgoing CEO, explained that: “Mr. Ensey is expected to continue to aggressively pursue the exploration of the company’s Riotx digital currency exchange under license from Coinsquare and expanded opportunities for digital asset and cryptocurrency businesses. The move follows the resignation of John O’Rourke, the company’s Chairman and CEO.”
If the name sounds familiar, this isn’t Riot’s first brush with controversy. Earlier this year the company was hit with a class action lawsuit. Before October 2017, Riot was a biotechnology company known as Bioptix, Inc. that specialized in the development of veterinary diagnostic tools. On October 4, Bioptix announced it was changing its name to Riot Blockchain and shifting its business focus to investing in blockchain technologies. It was accused that as a result of defendants’ false statements and omissions, the prices of Riot’s securities were artificially inflated.
Should investors trust the company after these latest developments? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Law enforcement authorities in New Delhi will file charges on Monday in the Coinsecure hack case. Coinsecure was a large cryptocurrency exchange allegedly wallet-hacked back in April of this year. It turns out to be an international crime, one spread over half a dozen exchanges.
India Cops Will File Charges Monday in Coinsecure Hack Case
“We contacted some of the exchange firms from where the bitcoins were routed,” officer Anyesh Roy explained. “Initially, they didn’t give a response, but now we are in the process of getting the information through mutual legal assistance treaty.”
Nearly half a year ago, a large crypto exchange in India, Coinsecure, announced its offline wallet had been emptied, apparently hacked. Over 400 bitcoin were stolen, then carrying a value of some Rs 20 crore, which is $ 2,773,800 in USD at today’s prices. “It was later found that the private keys — password kept by the company and stored offline — were leaked online leading to the hack,” the Times claims.
The seemingly international character of the crime led India authorities to seek cooperation with Interpol in an effort to track down the stolen bitcoin. It did appear coins were located in other exchanges, as Mr. Roy noted.
An Inside Job?
“Mutual legal assistance treaties are agreements between two or more countries for sharing of information. It is primarily used to request and obtain evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions,” the Times of India detailed. Five, as yet unnamed, crypto exchanges were found to be holding stolen bitcoin.
These pages reported back at the time how the exchange’s CEO openly accused its security officer of the crime. “‘On April 9th,’ Mr. Kaira continued, ‘we were informed by our CSO […] that 438.318 were stolen from our company’s bitcoin wallet due to some attack. As the private keys were kept with Dr. Amitabh Saxena, we feel that he is making a false story to divert our attention and he might have a role to play in this entire incident.’” Dr. Saxena was later arrested. It is unclear if he will be named in Monday’s formal charges.
In between arrests and Monday’s charges, Coinsecure began processing victim refunds summer of this year. As we explained, “We are happy to inform you that we have started the process of compensating our customers in Indian rupees, ex gratia, for the loss of their bitcoins in the attack that occurred on April 9, 2018. Please note that the last date for submitting claims to us along with all appropriate documents is June 30, 2018 — We will not entertain any claims received after June 30, 2018, and we shall have no liability towards any users who try to submit claims after the said date.” The Times suggests some $ 2M has been returned.
What do you think about India’s authorities pressing charges against suspects stemming from the $ 2.7 million Coinsecure hack? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comment section below.
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The post India Law Enforcement to File Charges Monday in $ 2.7M Coinsecure Wallet Hack appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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