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Nineteen firms have been granted provisional licenses to operate crypto exchanges by the Philippine government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority. In addition, eight firms have paid the application fees and are being reviewed. A list of all 27 companies has been published.
Provisional Licenses Issued
The Philippine government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) on Friday published a list of all companies that have been issued Financial Technology Solutions and Offshore Virtual Currency (Ftsovc) and Offshore Virtual Currency (Ovc) licenses as well as those that have paid the application fees and are being reviewed.
As of Oct. 12, a total of 19 companies have received provisional licenses — 17 were issued provisional principal licenses while two were issued provisional regular licenses. Ceza detailed:
Provisional principal licenses [allow licensees] to conduct offshore financial technology solutions business activities and offshore virtual currency exchange activities … Provisional regular licenses [allow them] to conduct offshore virtual currency exchange activities.
The Philippine News Agency previously noted that “A principal license for Ftsovc operation under Ceza is priced [at] USD360,000, while a regular license is at USD85,000.”
Ceza Corporate Board Secretary Catherine Joy Alameda explained in July that provisional licenses are valid for six months. A company “will be able to acquire its permanent license when it is able to fully comply with the requirements of Ceza,” she described.
Licensees must have authorized capital stock of $ 500,000 with paid-in capital of $ 200,000. Furthermore, Ceza “requires each cryptocurrency exchange to invest at least USD1 million in a period of two years and must put up a back office in the Philippines,” the news agency wrote.
The 19 Licensees
The 17 companies that have been granted Ftsovc provisional principal licenses are Golden Millennial Quickpay, Ultra Precise Investment, Liannet Technology, Rare Earth Asia Technologies Corp., Formosa Financial Holdings, Tanzer Holdings, Asia Premiere International, Orient Express Global, White Ranch Limited, Dragon Empire Developments, Galaxy Plus Developments, Tiger Wheel, Ipe Global, Cr8tiv Solutions Management, Sino-phil Economic Zone Agency Development and Management Corp., Digifin Technologies, and Hong Kong Yuen Shing Hong.
The two recipients of Ovc provisional regular licenses are Cezex Trading Pte. Ltd. and Unicorn Venture Investment Ltd.
8 Firms Being Reviewed
Ceza is also currently reviewing eight companies that have already paid the application fees for the two types of licenses.
Six companies being reviewed for provisional principal licenses are Bitventures Inc., Mbex Inc., Idragon Science Development Corp., Seryna Coin Metrics Inc., Lideres Inc., and Cx Tech Pte. Ltd.
Two companies, Csm Corp. and Birdmouse Co. Ltd., are being reviewed for provisional regular licenses.
In July, Ceza announced that “about 20,000 jobs in financial technology (fintech) will open up as soon as it awards the initial 25 principal licenses to be made available to qualified fintech companies,” the Philippine News Agency wrote, elaborating:
Ceza expects to earn PHP3.6 billion [$ 66.6 million] from the initial 25 Ftsovc licenses that it will issue, on top of the 0.1 percent share per transaction value generated from the operation of the fintech firms.
In August, Ceza partnered with Northern Star Gaming and Resorts Inc. to develop a crypto and fintech hub called Crypto Valley of Asia.
What do you think of Ceza licensing all these companies to operate crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Ceza.
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The post 19 Companies Licensed to Operate Crypto Exchanges in Philippine Economic Zone appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The Bank of Zambia has started to clamp down on cryptocurrency-related businesses, mere days after declaring that it does not view digital coins such as BTC as legal tender. The crackdown began on Oct. 14, when the central bank announced an investigation into Heritagecoin Resources Ltd. for allegedly laundering money, according to local media reports.
Bank of Zambia Probes
Heritagecoin’s Deposits Business
In addition to the ongoing probe, the Lusaka-based fintech startup faces allegations that it has taken on traditional banking activities, such as accepting deposits — something it is not certified to do.
“The company … has since been offering financial services and collecting deposits from members of the public,” Kamufinsa Manchishi, a spokesperson for the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission, told the Lusaka Times. The organization, which is assisting with the investigation into Heritagecoin, did not reveal the amount of money involved.
Manchishi added that: “As such, the commission together with the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) are currently investigating the company for activities contrary to the Prohibition and Prevention of Money Laundering, as well as the Banking and Financial Services Acts.”
On Friday, the BoZ declared that cryptocurrencies such as BTC are not legal tender, warning that those conducting transactions in the cryptocurrency would have nobody to turn to or blame in the event of market failure. However, it appears that the bank issued the decree solely because it wants to promote its depreciating fiat currency, the kwacha.
That said, the central bank has neither the power nor the legal backing to shut down the nascent Zambian cryptocurrency market. The BoZ would need parliament to amend the law that enabled its own establishment for it to be able to claim any authority over cryptocurrency investments or trading.
Nonetheless, the BoZ does have full control of the banking sector within which Heritagecoin Resources operates. Founded in June 2018, the company describes itself as a “digital currency financing and real estate development” company that also offers “other financial advisory services.” It does not appear that the firm is operating as an exchange, although it does accept deposits.
Some of the promises made by the startup do look suspicious, as many of them are expressed in bombastic, pyramid-style jargon. “The concept is very simple; our partners are entitled to daily earning (sic) of 1.6 percent guaranteeing a payout of 38 percent after service charge. Maturity period is 25 working days,” the company says on its website. Promoters of Ponzi schemes often make similar claims, such as promising unusually high returns on deposits — often, those promises are too good to be true.
“Despite the name, they (Heritagecoin) don’t actually have a coin or token. It’s just a name. They are not an exchange,” Dominic Kapalu, a Zambian author and cryptocurrency proponent, told news.Bitcoin.com. “They collect funds from people which they trade in altcoins and bitcoin. I am not sure if they do mine as well. From the returns they get from the business, they share the profits with the investors.”
Kapalu claimed that the BoZ probe is not specifically focused on the cryptocurrency side of Heritagecoin’s business, even though its crypto unit was at risk of collapse if it didn’t take deposits. “The company is being investigated not because they deal in cryptocurrency,” Kapalu said via email.
“The investigation is to do with a product they have which requires members of the public to deposit money with the company and pay them interest after 28 days. (BoZ) rules state that any deposit-taking institution in Zambia needs to be licensed to prevent companies from defrauding citizens.”
Proceed With Caution, Authorities Warn
Manchishi, the Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission spokesperson, warned investors to remain wary of companies that promise extraordinarily high returns on short-term deposits. On Oct. 12, the BoZ also issued a statement warning individuals that use or trade cryptocurrencies that they were doing so at their own risk. The central bank said that such people would not have any regulatory recourse in the event of theft or fraud.
Additionally, the BoZ claimed that although bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies retained “some monetary characteristics, such as, being used as a means of payment on a person-to-person basis, cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in Zambia.”
On its charge sheet, the Zambian financial regulator claimed that virtual currencies are raising the risk of “money laundering” while “financing activities of terrorism” and driving up “general consumer protection risks such as fraud and hacking.”
In May, the central bank in neighboring Zimbabwe used its authority over commercial banks to shut down cryptocurrency markets.
What do you think about the Bank of Zambia’s stance on cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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A federal judge in St. Louis has ordered two companies to pay a combined $ 7 million for shipping ingredients containing poultry feathers and other misbranded items to pet food manufacturers. Wilbur-Ellis Feed pleaded guilty in April. Diversified Ingredients Inc. pleaded guilty in July. Both were sentenced Thursday. Federal authorities say…
Cryptocurrency businesses that have faced difficulties in securing banking services in the UK now have a new option. LBX has launched a new service offering access to an account where clients can store, manage and transfer both their fiat currency and cryptocurrency holdings.
“LBX Pay” Is Targeted at Crypto Businesses
LBX has explained that its new service is initially aimed at the business sector. LBX Pay will be offered to those involved in the cryptocurrency industry such as ICOs, traders and funds. The service enables clients to convert holdings from fiat and cryptocurrency without having to move funds between accounts or service providers. After its release for businesses, LBX plans to roll out a retail version of the service, where it will “provide all consumers with a whole new way to interact with their cryptocurrency.”
The service will allow its users to manage all balances, trades and payments – including those to third parties and batch payments – through the same app. And the company adds that for those with greater volumes and demands, there will be flexible access to LBX’s OTC desk and, from Q1 2019, access to an API linked directly to their account.
Segregated Bank Accounts
The company says that all fiat holdings in LBX Pay accounts will be held in segregated bank accounts, each with a dedicated IBAN and a monthly statement service. All cryptocurrency holdings will be kept in cold storage. LBX did not made public its banking partners enabling this service but back in June, Reuters reported that the exchange struck a rare deal to open a bank account with British startup Clearbank, a clearing bank launched in 2017 by Nick Ogden, the founder of payments group Worldpay.
LBX was opened in November 2017 for OTC trades. In addition to UK banking, it is also an e-wallet services provider registered with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and follows rigorous KYC/AML protocols. Earlier this year, LBX added support for trading bitcoin cash (BCH) against the British pound.
What are your thoughts on LBX Pay? 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 London’s LBX Launches Solution for Bank-Shunned Crypto Companies appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Stocks opened broadly lower on Wall Street on Wednesday, led by drops in technology and other companies.
Sears Holdings plunged 37% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer is preparing a bankruptcy filing.
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WSJ.com: US Business
Only a few months into office, President Trump had delivered on a number of promises to the oil and natural gas industry, such as reviving the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines while trying to rewrite a number of environmental regulations.
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Terror financing is taking on a new shape, but still retaining its old aides. Environmental crimes such as wildlife trafficking and illegal ivory sales have overtaken the drug trade as the major income source for terrorists around the world, accounting for more than a third of their revenue. However, it is not cryptocurrency that is helping non-state militias and terrorist groups fuel conflict in countries like Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan. Rather, banks, human mules and fake companies are the preferred and dominant conduits.
Environmental Crimes Overtake Drug Trade as the Major Income Source for Terrorists
Environmental crimes such as illegal logging and the ivory trade have now overtaken drug money as the biggest source of funding for militias and terrorist organizations worldwide – and they aren’t using cryptocurrency to do so – a new report by Interpol has revealed.
Of the $ 30.2 billion in illicit flows generated annually in conflict zones to fund terrorist groups like the Islamic State, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and the Taliban, 38% comes from illegal deals in timber, mining, fishing, charcoal and wildlife trafficking, it says. The drug trade accounts for 28%, illegal taxation 26%, and kindnappings and foreign donations 3% each.
Altogether, the World Atlas of Illicit Flows, a study by the global policing agency Interpol, Rhipto, a Norwegian UN-collaborating centre, and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime identified more than 1,000 routes used for smuggling and other illicit flows around the world. The seven main extremist groups of insurgents and terrorists receive funding of between $ 1 billion and $ 1.4 billion each year combined.
Much of the cash flow from these activities is moved largely through formal banking channels, legitimate front companies and in cash, contrary to growing claims from cynics implicating cryptocurrency in terrorist financing.
“Organized criminals use smuggling networks that also increasingly enable foreign fighters to move across borders to safe havens, and to stockpile or ship resources by means of formal and informal networks of financial flows,” the report says.
“Over 2,600 unaccounted-for (predominantly Islamic State) foreign fighters have left Syria and Iraq, an unknown number of them via Libya, using these illicit smuggling networks, and they use them to get access to forged papers, as well as routes to safe havens.”
The study shows that monetary practices embedded in Muslim culture, such as donating to charities and informal money-transfer centers, have compounded the difficulty in tracking down terrorist financial links.
Allegations of Cryptocurrency Fueling Illicit Flows ‘Disingenuous and Misleading’
Cryptocurrencies have faced intense criticism lately over allegations of aiding money laundering, largely because of their pseudonymous nature. Shapeshift has been accused of laundering $ 9 million in the last two years, allegations that chief executive officer Erik Voorhees dismissed as “disingenuous and misleading.” More than 40 other crypto exchanges have faced similar allegations, according to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal.
Voorhees instead pointed to banks as the biggest culprits, citing a UN report which put the amount of alleged illicit flows that banks facilitate each day at $ 2.7 billion – about 219,000 times as much as Shapeshift is accused of laundering over two years. Last week, Thomas Borgen, chief executive officer of Danish bank Danske Bank resigned over a scandal involving $ 234 billion allegedly laundered via its Estonian branch during the eight years to 2015. British banking group HSBC Holdings PLC has been accused of laundering billions of dollars in Africa and Asia.
Militias Rake in Millions of Dollars from Illegal Taxation, Extortion and Kidnappings
According to the Interpol report, some 40,000 members of the Taliban earned an estimated annual income of $ 75–$ 95 million from taxation – particularly of drugs, land and agricultural produce, and from donations from abroad. In mid-2017, Islamic State made an estimated $ 10 million a month, but “with dramatic losses of territory, Islamic State probably has at their disposal no more than a quarter of this. This comes largely from confiscations and illegal taxation,” said Interpol.
The merged al-Qaeda groups Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham in Syria and Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin in the Sahel make an estimated $ 18–$ 35 million and $ 5–$ 35 million respectively from illegal taxation, donations, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes, drugs and illegal taxation, it said.
Al-Shabaab in Kenya and Somalia receives about $ 20 million, half from the illicit charcoal trade and the rest from other forms of taxation, while Boko Haram in Nigeria made $ 5–$ 10 million mainly from taxation, bank robberies, donations from other terrorist groups and kidnapping for ransom.
Over 8,000 rebels inside the DRC make at least $ 13 million a year from the exploitation and taxation of natural resources “and this sum is but a small portion of the total estimated value attributed to illegally exploited resources in the eastern DRC, which has been put at over $ 770 million a year,” the report added.
What do you think about money laundering in conflict zones? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock
Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.
The post Banks, Money Mules and Front Companies Aid Terrorists in Conflict Zones Launder Money appeared first on Bitcoin News.
At Merck, the retirement age isn’t what it used to be — for the CEO, at least.
On Wednesday, the pharmaceutical giant said it was rescinding its policy requiring its chief executive to retire at the age of 65, announcing that its chairman and chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, had agreed to stay…