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While private businesses all over the world struggle with employees so much as possessing cryptocurrency, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has reportedly given the full go-ahead to its employees trading crypto.
Also read: How To Regain Control From Nanny Zuck
CFTC Allows Employees to Trade Cryptocurrency
Robert Schmidt reports that bitcoin futures regulator CFTC now allows “workers [to] trade digital tokens as long as they don’t buy them on margin or have inside information gleaned from their jobs,” though futures products of a similar nature are prohibited.
Last December, the CFTC welcomed bitcoin futures market makers such as Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to begin the groundbreaking process of introducing the world’s most popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin, to mainstream investors.
Mr. Schmidt sources CFTC’s Daniel J. Davis, appointed last Spring by Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo. At his ascension to the CFTC General Counsel position, Mr. Davis reminded “Congress has entrusted the Commission with key responsibilities and I intend to assist the Commission with the various legal issues it must address in fulfilling those responsibilities.” A memo by Mr. Davis mere weeks ago reportedly addressed “numerous inquiries” from employees about their ability to dabble in cryptocurrencies.
Mr. Giancarlo around the same time became something of a folk hero within the ecosystem for his feeling responses at, of all places, a US Senate Committee on Banking public hearing. He was paired with his compadre bigwig of the SEC, but it was Mr. Giancarlo who stole the show, asking lawmakers take into consideration the next generation’s affinity for decentralized currency. Evidently that view flows to those under his employ.
Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Bloomberg quotes St. Mary’s School of Law professor Angela Walch as finding the whole idea “actually mind-boggling that they are allowing investing in this at all. It could absolutely skew their regulatory decisions.” The Chairman’s spokeswoman, however, clarified, “The chairman has made it clear that staff members who own Bitcoin should not participate in matters related to Bitcoin, as it presents a conflict of interest.”
Mr. Davis’ memorandum to CFTC employees is reported to read as, “In this environment, the situation is ripe for the public to question the personal ethics of employees engaging in cryptocurrency transactions. Please keep in mind that you must endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that you are violating the law or government and commission ethical standards.”
Interestingly, Mr. Schmidt notes, “The Securities and Exchange Commission also allows its workers to invest in digital currencies, with some exceptions similar to the CFTC. However, the SEC has less responsibility for overseeing the crypto markets.”
Whatever the case, it goes to the broader issue of a major importance in politics: optics. It does look bad to have regulators eating at the same table they oversee. On the other hand, it might give individual financial cops better insight into the nature of these markets and the productive power of cryptocurrency in general.
Do you have a problem with CFTC employees trading in crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, CFTC.
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A search was underway in the Atlanta area to find an employee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who went home sick more than a week ago and has been missing ever since.
The Ministry of Finance in Kazakhstan has announced measures to improve security and oversight in its IT department after catching four employees mining cryptocurrencies on its servers. Joking that the miners have taken over the central bank’s main duty – money emission, a deputy called for crypto regulations. The National Bank is actually working on proposals to regulate the crypto sector.
State Computers Used to Mint Digital Coins
IT specialists working for the Finance Ministry in four different regions of Kazakhstan have been implicated in using government hardware to mine cryptocurrencies. They were employed by local offices of the ministry’s Department of State Revenue, investigators said, quoted by Tengrinews. The miners have been exploiting the servers of the tax authority and the most powerful personal computers available to employees.
“They have secretly installed mining software, which significantly decreased the speed of information processing and slowed down government computers”, Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) said in a press release. “These programs have been added to the exceptions lists of antivirus applications”, the agency explained.
“Criminal investigations have been launched against four employees of different regional divisions. KNB is in charge but we have started an internal inquiry, as well”, said Ardak Tangebaev, head of the Department of State Revenue. “We are going to tighten control over our IT departments”, he added.
The employees have been charged with “impeding the work of information systems and telecommunications networks” and “creation, use or distribution of malicious computer programs and software products”. It is quite obvious that the current articles of the penal code do not specifically cover crypto-related crime.
“Mining Under Your Nose”
Kazakhstan’s financial authorities have been criticized for slowing down the introduction of regulations in the cryptocurrency sector. A deputy joked that the IT workers at the Finance Ministry have taken over one of the main responsibilities of the National Bank – emitting money. “They are mining under your nose and prosecutors have no idea about what charges to raise”, Gleb Shchegelskiy said, calling for crypto regulations in Kazakhstan.
The central bank is actually working on a set of legislative proposals. New restrictions on operations with cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, and their exchange with the local fiat tenge are to be imposed soon, according to NBK’s chairman Daniyar Akishev. “The situation indicates a necessity to toughen the requirements for the use of cryptocurrencies. We believe it is expedient to introduce legal restrictions”, he said, quoted by Kaztag.
The measures are expected to affect cryptocurrency transactions and payments. Akishev added that the “appropriate amendments” are currently being prepared. Like many of his colleagues around the world, he warned Kazakhs about the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies.
A Look on the Bright Sight
Despite all that, Kazakhstan remains a country with long-standing ambitions to become a crypto hub in the region. Last year Astana announced intentions to create “the most favorable business climate” for fintech companies with a “highly progressive regulatory framework”. In 2018 the country’s leadership called for the launch of a “democratic, transparent and global cryptocurrency… backed by assets”. Kazakhstan’s financial authorities, however, are still struggling to grasp the realities of a rapidly developing crypto industry, justifying the latest criticism.
More than 1,000 investors, miners, startups and representatives of the blockchain industry took part in Cryptoconference-2018 in Almaty last week and shared their expectations for the near future. “If 2017 was the year of ICOs, 2018 will be the year of regulation”, Streamity’s representative Sergey Kolomiets told Tengrinews. The president of the Kazakhstani Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies, Eset Butin, confirmed his prediction: “I think China is never doing anything just like that. In 2018 the PRC will decide about the crypto sector”. Participants in a panel discussion on the regulatory challenges in the Commonwealth of Independent States agreed that the industry needs regulations, not restrictions.
Do you think government institutions will one day use the excess capacity of their servers to mine cryptocurrencies? Tell us in the comments section below.
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Russia’s largest bank, the state-controlled Sberbank, has reiterated that it is not mining cryptocurrencies. However, the bank says that it has often caught its employees crypto mining using the bank’s equipment.
Sberbank Claims It’s Not Mining Crypto
The state-controlled Sberbank is the largest bank in Russia and the third largest in Europe. The bank is in possession of a large quantity of graphics cards that can be used for cryptocurrency mining. The bank’s senior vice president, Alexander Vedyakhin, apologized publicly in November of last year for causing a shortage of these cards in the Russian market, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.
Since admitting to scooping up most of the graphics cards on the domestic market, Sberbank has maintained that it is not mining cryptocurrencies with them. Instead, Vedyakhin claimed these cards are for the bank’s “laboratory for the development of artificial intelligence,” Tass quoted him.
On Wednesday, Chairman of the bank’s Board, Herman Gref, reiterated at the “Leaders of Russia” forum that Sberbank is not mining cryptocurrencies on a corporate level. However, the publication quoted him proclaiming:
We bought [graphics] cards of a slightly different configuration. Sberbank is not engaged in mining, but we often catch employees who are engaged in mining on the bank’s equipment.
Gref elaborated that he believes the bank is not interested in mining because it is a “primitive business,” adding that “I can tell you a dozen other investment objects with higher yields,” RBC detailed.
Sberbank’s Engagement with Cryptocurrencies
At the end of January, Sberbank announced that its subsidiary in Switzerland will start offering cryptocurrency trading. This Swiss part of the plan is to “avoid violating domestic rules,” Reuters explained. Meanwhile, Russian regulators are working on finalizing the legal framework for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
In addition, the bank opened a blockchain laboratory last month for researching the latest technology in this area. “The laboratory will cooperate with start-ups, associations and various communities,” RBC conveyed, adding that the bank will introduce “educational programs in this area.”
Gref also recently stated that he “opposes the ban on cryptocurrency and calls for tolerance and patience in their regulation,” Tass described and quoted him saying:
Before trying to regulate, you do not need to rush, but you do need to maintain a normal background around the technologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Do you think Sberbank is mining cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Sberbank.
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In a significant court decision on the status of “gig economy” workers, a federal judge ruled drivers for GrubHub Inc. are independent contractors and not employees.
The ruling may have far-reaching implications for other sharing economy companies, including Uber Technologies Inc., whose business…
As News.Bitcoin.com learned two weeks ago, one of Europe’s largest banks, Nordea, will enact a company-wide policy to effectively ban its employees from owning or trading in cryptocurrency. Citing risks and perhaps looming regulation, the bank decided to act preemptively.
Nordea Bank Bans Bitcoin for Employees
Most of the 31,000 Nordea Bank employees by Spring won’t be allowed to own or trade in cryptocurrency, according to a bank-wide policy to be enacted at the end of next month. One of Northern Europe’s largest banks, Nordea has had a tenuous relationship with bitcoin over the last few years. Its present executive team is on record as either being dismissive or openly hostile to decentralized digital currency.
Barely two weeks ago, a company whistleblower reached out to News.Bitcoin.com to explain the bank was indeed considering such a move, upsetting some employees. This week the bank confirmed to mainstream media sources such as Reuters and Bloomberg the policy was indeed being enacted.
Nordea spokeswoman told Reuters by email, “The risks are seen as too high and the protection is insufficient for both the co-workers and the bank.” Employees who hold the currency as of the ban won’t be asked to sell them. The bank is, however, recommending they do exactly that, sell.
The bank explained to Bloomberg, “Given these high risks, and in line with our role in the banking industry to maintain high standards of conduct, Nordea is not supportive of staff investing in cryptocurrencies,” citing the standard worries about volatility and supposed criminal usage.
Clients and Rivals
Nordea was forced to address the issue of advising clients who’re interested in the crypto boom, insisting, “it’s important to emphasize that it is not something we recommend our customers to invest in. Just like every other bank trading platforms, Nordea Investor provides access to trade all securities listed on, for example, Nasdaq,” meaning “self-services customers can purchase cryptocurrency-related products through the platform, but it is important to emphasize that it is not something we recommend.”
Without much fanfare, large Northern European rival, Danske Bank, has done roughly the same sans complete prohibition: “We’re skeptical toward cryptocurrencies and are advising our employees not to trade them, but we don’t impose an actual ban. We’re currently analyzing the situation and time will tell whether there’ll be a formal ban.” As for its clients, “Due to lack of maturity and transparency in the various cryptocurrencies, we have decided not to provide trading of such securities on our various investment platforms,” Danske clarified.
Still, some experts view such seemingly drastic moves as really just banks hedging against inviting regulators to crackdown on the industry. Nordea’s ban, then, could be seen as less a blow to cryptocurrency and more a boon to self governance.
Whatever the case, Nordea’s exact way to monitor its employees was not revealed.
What do you think of bank employees being banned from crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Nordea.
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A Michigan man was arrested after allegedly attempting to shoot and kill CNN employees at the network’s headquarters in Atlanta.
This week News.Bitcoin.com carried the breaking story alleging employees of giant Northern European bank Nordea were being forbidden by company policy from owning or trading cryptocurrency. Since publication, a bank employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, forwarded evidence the large institution is indeed going ahead with such plans.
Nordea Bank Whistleblower
Word spread 12 January 2018 on Twitter Nordea Bank “forbids all their employees (at least in Sweden) to stop owning and trading $ btc and other crypto currency. This applies to secretaries, IT personal [sic], cleaners and any bank staff employed by the company. Is it legal even?,” asked Twitter user @samisin.
Nordea Bank AB has more than half a trillion dollars in assets, and is one of the largest banks in Northern Europe. Its alleged move against employees’ cryptocurrencies were not all that surprising when placed in the backdrop of the bank’s executive team’s disparaging public comments. Executives have long worried about cryptocurrency and its lack of regulation, and more recently complained about the fact bitcoin was allowed to exist without jumping through all the hoops of the traditional banking system, referring to the phenomenon as “a joke.”
Bitcoin’s value, however, is exactly that: it could not have existed if brought through the regular cartel channel of state-backed banks such as Nordea. Its precise reason for being is to defy minders and bureaucratic middle persons, landing in the hands of ordinary, uncredentialed and unlicensed peoples.
After News.Bitcoin.com published the story, a whistleblower came forward with documentation on the assurance of anonymity.
According to memorandums obtained by News.Bitcoin.com, a decision by Nordea’s board was made 13 December 2017. The message’s import was to affirm no employees of the bank were allowed to trade bitcoin nor other cryptocurrencies. When queried about what to do with crypto already held by employees, an answer was not immediately forthcoming.
Trade Union Might Take Up Cause
The memos were pulled from Yammer, a social networking site used by some businesses for private communication. Its network is open by invite only.
A second communication from the bank further outlined coming policy: The ban will be effective late February due to “its highly speculative nature, including high investment/volatility risk, and the related tax evasion and money laundering risks,” the source details. New rules also include how unless “otherwise stated, the rules set forth in this section apply to all transactions. Therefore, it is irrelevant whether they are carried out on [a personal] account, on behalf of a Closely Related Person, a customer, the Group, or on behalf of another party within or outside the scope of work,” the memo reads.
Furthermore, “No Employee, Service Provider or Tied Agent at the Group may: Conduct trading in Bitcoins and other Cryptocurrencies.” Exemptions are being provided for if investments “in financial instruments manufactured by Nordea linked to cryptocurrencies. Further, the prohibition does not cover minor investments in cryptocurrency made by employees in product development roles who have a work-related reason to do so, and where the respective Head of the BA/GF has pre-approved the investment following consultation with Group Compliance,” the bank explained. There appears to also be “special circumstances” clause as well.
When the anonymous source was asked about employees’ feelings on the matter, “Regarding the workers, as far as I know many care and think this policy is way to far reaching when it comes to their right to own whatever legal property they wish, and therefore complaints have also been made to the union Finansförbundet,” we were told.
As a result of “complaints by employees,” the 33,000 member trade union Financial Sector Union of Sweden, Finansförbundet, representing bank employees, is reportedly set to discuss a formal response during an internal meeting this Tuesday, 16 January 2018.
What are your thoughts about bank prohibiting employees from owning bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, Twitter, Finansförbundet.
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A giant Northern European bank, Nordea, has allegedly enacted a company policy which forbids its employees from owning or trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The bank’s current executive team have a long history of on-the-record skepticism toward bitcoin.
Also read: Banks in India Block Crypto Accounts
Nordea Bank Allegedly Forbids Employees from Owning Crypto
The once Swedish bank Nordea Bank AB, now headquartered in Finland (home of its largest shareholder) has reportedly forbade all of its employees from owning or trading in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The alleged move might not be a surprise to long-term watchers of the bank and its executive team.
Chairman Björn Wahlroos’ opinions on bitcoin go back to at least 2014, and he lamented then the decentralized currency’s supposed anonymous properties and its lack of inflation — two aspects most enthusiasts cherish. More recently, Nordea’s President and CEO Casper von Koskull dismissed bitcoin altogether, calling it “a joke.”
Mr. von Koskull explained, “If you somehow allow that to live without controls, then, given the billions we spend on financial regulation as a financial system, I mean, I think it’s actually a joke that you then just let something like bitcoin live. I don’t get it – it’s absurd.”
Joke or not, it’s evidently too hot for the bank’s employees. Nordea is listed on three exchanges and has over a thousand brick and mortar branches serving more than a dozen countries. It boasts nearly twenty million customers, retail and corporate, and has another over five million online users. Its market capitalization is nearing half a trillion dollars.
In a tweet, @samisin wrote, “Nordea Bank forbids all their employees (at least in Sweden) to stop owning and trading $ btc and other crypto currency. This applies to secretaries, IT personal, cleaners and any bank staff employed by the company. Is it legal even?” Commenters railed against the notion, citing violations of basic rights.
In some professional circles, such as journalism, it’s often assumed a conflict of interest to own or have financial stake in that which a company or employee is presumed to have objective contact. New York Times writer Nathaniel Popper has outright refused to own bitcoin so as to not appear tainted in his coverage. Famously, JP Morgan Chase through its CEO Jamie Dimon threatened to “fire” anyone even suspected of dabbling in bitcoin. For bitcoiners, however, there is a glaring double standard.
Does Mr. Popper not use fiat currency? And if so, using his ethical logic, wouldn’t that make him biased toward government paper and against bitcoin? It’s easy to get caught in traps like these, especially when it is just a pretense or only perverse virtue signalling. Banks have long fretted about cryptocurrency and its “risky” and “speculative” nature. But even those concerns fall rather flat when one considers deals these same banks are engaged.
For example, Nordea was just involved in what’s known as a “capital relief deal,” which ironically pushes risk on investors (in this case to almost 10 billion USD) in loans. This is also known as “synthetic securitizations,” and they function to lessen the amount of reserves banks must have on hand against losses. Nordea was headlong in the deal until it abruptly pulled out altogether.
“Nordea dropped those plans as it embarks on an overhaul to eliminate 6,000 jobs,” Bloomberg reported. Clearly shredding thousands of jobs goes to the bank’s concern about employee wellbeing.
On the brighter side, those former Nordea employees might now be able to own bitcoin.
What is your experience with banks and crypto? Let us know in the comments below.
Images: Pixabay,Twitter, Nordea.
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“It has changed the dynamics of what…