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| January 20, 2019

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GOP’s Steve Scalise shuts down Twitter debate on taxes with Ocasio-Cortez after ‘radical followers’ allude to Virginia shooting

January 6, 2019 |

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., abruptly ended a Twitter debate with newcomer Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York early Sunday after at least three commenters made references to the June 2017 shooting in which Scalise and three other people were shot by a left-wing activist.
FOX News

Abkhazia Temporarily Shuts Down 15 Mining Farms

January 1, 2019 |

Authorities in Abkhazia have cut off 15 mining facilities from the territory’s electrical grid. The short-term measure is meant to alleviate power shortages during the cold winter months. The operators of the farms have fully cooperated with the local electric utility.

Also read: Two Mining Companies Among Georgia’s Major Electricity Consumers

8,950 kWt of Mining Hardware Unplugged

Abkhazia Temporarily Shuts Down 15 Mining FarmsChernomorenergo, the state-owned company responsible for the electricity distribution in the breakaway republic, said it disconnected all mining farms it managed to locate. The utility announced on its Facebook page that the shut down facilities had a total power capacity of 8,950 kWt. Their consumption is equal to that of 1,800 households, or the administrative region around Abkhazia’s capital, Sukhumi.

The move follows a decision by the government of the partially recognized entity in northwestern Georgia to temporarily halt cryptocurrency mining with locally produced electricity. The Abkhazian authorities explained the measure, which was approved at the end of last year, was necessary to guarantee the electricity supply for homes, social institutions and important production facilities.

The country’s electric power system has been over stressed by rising consumption due to the low winter temperatures. Chernomorenergo said the miners have complied with the recently issued government decree to limit their consumption. In summer months, however, the bitcoin farms help utilize excess electrical energy produced by a large hydro-power complex located on the de facto border and shared with Georgia.

Abkhazia Temporarily Shuts Down 15 Mining Farms
The Enguri hydroelectric power station.

The Enguri hydroelectric station, along with the smaller Vardnili plant, satisfies most of Abkhazia’s needs for electricity. According to an analysis published by The Financial last year, the total electricity consumption of Georgia reached 1,116 million kWh in March 2018. Around 19 percent of the electrical energy, or 207 million kWh, was consumed by Abkhazia.

Emerging Mining Destination

Much like neighboring Georgia and other countries in the Transcaucasian region such as Armenia, Abkhazia has seen a rapid development of the cryptocurrency mining industry. That’s largely due to the lack of strict regulations and the low operating costs, including cheap electricity which is a major expense in the energy-intensive process of minting digital coins.

Abkhazia Temporarily Shuts Down 15 Mining FarmsThe executive power in Sukhumi has recognized the need to regulate the activities of a growing number of mining businesses. The president of Abkhazia, Raul Khajimba, recently scheduled a government meeting to discuss the drafting of a new law that is expected to legalize the sector and place it under state oversight.

Cryptocurrency miners in Abkhazia have so far played a positive role. Their farms are often located on the premises of abandoned factories from Soviet times. Like several other countries and entities in the post-Soviet space such as Transnistria, for example, the self-proclaimed republic now has a chance to attract fresh foreign investments and increase its budget receipts by inviting more miners and other crypto companies.

Do you expect Abkhazia to become a crypto mining destination like other countries in the Transcaucasian region? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Chernomorenergo.


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The post Abkhazia Temporarily Shuts Down 15 Mining Farms appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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Government Shuts Down Over Border Wall Funding

December 22, 2018 |

The U.S. government partially shut down early Saturday after lawmakers failed to reach a spending deal that centered on whether to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia

Maine Shuts Down Facebook Page on Dangers of Pot

December 17, 2018 |

The state of Maine has shut down a Facebook page detailing the potential dangers of marijuana use in response to a satirical page launched by pro-pot critics, the AP reports. State Center for Disease Control spokeswoman Emily Spencer tells Maine Public that Maine (where recreational pot use is legal )…
Newser

U.K. Cryptocurrency Exchange Cubits Shuts Down After $33M Scam

December 14, 2018 |

Cubits, a London-based digital asset trading platform, has been forced into administration after fraudsters reportedly stole €29 million (about $ 32.5 million) from the exchange in February. The company claimed “it fell victim” to an elaborate scam orchestrated in collusion with three of its clients. 

Also read: Former Mt. Gox CEO Could Face 10 Years in Jail Over Embezzlement

Exchange Enters Into Voluntary Administration

The administration means that investors cannot deposit or withdraw funds until further notice. It’s not clear how much worth of bitcoin the exchange was holding on behalf of customers at the time of closure.

Cubits has now appointed Steve Parker and Trevor Binyon of Opus Restructuring & Insolvency as joint administrators. In a statement, the company said it had failed to recover from the “criminal act,” which involved the accounts of three customers.

U.K. Cryptocurrency Exchange Cubits Shuts Down After $  33M Scam

Cubits, the trading name of legal entity Dooga Ltd., said the “serious criminal act” had crippled business operations and “finally led to the difficult decision to place the company into administration.”

Three Chinese traders allegedly purchased BTC through the platform via Pay Secure Online (Paysec), a payment processor based in Malta. However, Paysec never remitted the funds to Dooga, in an alleged scam. Cubits has now filed a lawsuit in Malta to force Paysec to reimburse the €35 million ($ 39.2 million it supposedly owes the exchange. The reimbursement claim includes funds from the three Chinese accounts and others.

The company stated:

The criminal act happened in February 2018 and involved the accounts of three clients. Bitcoins with a market value at that time of approximately €29 million were properly delivered and subsequently withdrawn, with the customers apparently colluding with fraudsters. Dooga has never received the equivalent in fiat from the payment processor responsible for carrying out the transaction.

Dooga stated that it had informed the responsible authorities in the U.K., Malta, China and Germany of the scam. It has also filed several criminal complaints, but nothing has materialized, forcing the exchange to file for administration.

Fruitless Efforts

With administration – the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy – the administrator will seek to restructure the company in financial distress, especially its debt. During this period, investors or creditors cannot make legal claims against the entity, giving it opportunity to recover.

Cubits said it had made “every possible effort to recover” the funds without success. The only other option was to file for bankruptcy.

U.K. Cryptocurrency Exchange Cubits Shuts Down After $  33M Scam

“This decision secures the current position whilst the administrators seek offers for the business and its assets,” said the exchange. “The role of the administrators will be to work with those who are owed money by the company and to collect monies that are owed. The key objective is to achieve the best possible outcome for creditors and recover as much as possible of the funds owed to the company.”

Parker, who will also be working together with Allister Manson, technology partner at Opus Restructuring & Insolvency, and Nicholas Parton, head of forensic accounting at Opus, said his duties as administrator involve collaborating with those who are owed money by Cubits and to collect money owed to the company. “Dooga’s current position is secure, investigations are proceeding and we will be writing to creditors, formally, this week,” he said.

Cheated?

U.K. Cryptocurrency Exchange Cubits Shuts Down After $  33M Scam

Users reacted angrily when the Cubits platform suddenly went offline on Monday. The exchange said on Twitter that the blackout was due to “maintenance.”  Later, the website began producing a general error message before subsequently announcing that the company was being placed under administration.

User Jamil Khadem complained on Twitter: “Have we been robbed by Cubits? I’ve been waiting for a withdrawal since the 6th of December and the company won’t give me a straight answer.”

Founded in 2014, Cubits has allowed customers to buy and sell cryptocurrency like bitcoin. It also claimed to act as a bridge between virtual currency and more traditional forms of payment, specifically to the online gaming industry.

What do you think about the developments at Cubits? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post U.K. Cryptocurrency Exchange Cubits Shuts Down After $ 33M Scam appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

December 13, 2018 |

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

In Thursday’s installment of The Daily, we report on a highly anticipated stablecoin project that’s failed before it’s even launched, and explore the strangely centralized world of crypto Twitter. First though, we’ll start with the news that a third party app has made it possible to pay for your Uber ride using BTC.

Also read: Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets

Fold Brings Bitcoin to Uber

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts DownFold, an app dedicated to making it easy to spend BTC in the real world, has added one of its biggest integrations yet. “We are excited to welcome Uber to Fold lineup,” explained the team in a blog post. “You can now use bitcoin to purchase your next Uber ride. Simply select the dollar amount, send your bitcoin, and then ride safely to your next event.” The app, which also enables BTC to be spent at stores such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, works by converting cryptocurrency into a corresponding gift card balance within the Fold wallet that can then be redeemed by scanning a code in-store.

Developers Pull the Plug on Basis Stablecoin

It’s being reported that Basis, the largest stablecoin project to date based on early stage funding, has been sunsetted. The algorithmic stablecoin, which had been categorized in the same bracket as coins like dai, raised $ 133 million in venture funding from the likes of a16z, Bain, DCG, Metastable, Pantera Capital, Polychain, Lightspeed, and Google Ventures. The bulk of that funding is now believed to have been returned, with the Basis team reportedly having been spooked by regulatory concerns. While the technical skills of the Basis team have generally been praised within the crypto space, not everyone was convinced by the merits of their algorithmic stablecoin. Back in May, Messari Crypto’s Qiao Wang predicted that Basis would “fail catastrophically”.

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts DownCommenting on the rumored shutdown of Basis, Three Arrows Capital CEO Su Zhu wrote “I hope the industry thinks more critically about what the shape of a good project is in this space. You can’t just cobble together ex-bigtech/bankers, raise [nine figures], and then pop the champagne. More importantly I hope LPs ask their VCs harder questions.” Stablecoin skeptic Preston Byrne was equally unimpressed, linking to a blog he had penned a year ago in which he called Basis “the worst idea in cryptocurrency.”

Bitcoin Cash and Ripple Dominate Crypto Twitter

Social sentiment service The Tie has been looking at what crypto Twitter’s had to say over the last few weeks. It’s plotted the change in sentiment for the top five cryptocurrencies, with a view to extrapolating actionable insights for the benefit of traders. The platform found bitcoin cash (BCH) and ripple (XRP) to be the most active Twitter communities over the past month, the former on account of the hard fork that got everyone talking, and the latter because the Ripple army is famed for its slavish devotion to its altcoin through good times and bad. How much of that discourse comes from unique accounts, however, is debatable.

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

“While accounting for only 3 percent of overall trading volume, XRP accounts for 8.97 percent of total conversational volume on Twitter. On average, 50 percent of daily tweets come from unique accounts, which means that much of the conversation is driven by the same accounts,” reported The Tie. The platform shared the above image with news.Bitcoin.com, which it claims “highlights how XRP has a centralized strong community.” Its acolytes might harp on about ripple’s “inherently decentralized” nature, but the coin’s community is as centralized as it gets.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Bitmain Shuts Down Research and Development Center in Israel

December 10, 2018 |

The ongoing bear market has caused another cryptocurrency company to downsize its operations. Bitmain, the Beijing-headquartered bitcoin mining technology giant, has now begun shutting down its research and development center in Ra’anana, Israel.

Also Read: Former Israeli Prime Minister Calls Cryptocurrencies a ‘Ponzi Scheme’

Bitmaintech Israel Closes Down

Bitmain Shuts Down Research and Development Center in IsraelAccording to reports from Israel, Bitmain’s research and development center in the country will be shut down this week. A total of 23 employees are being laid off, and Gadi Glikberg, who headed the Israeli company and served as a VP at Bitmain, will also lose his position.

“The crypto market has been going through turmoil in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation,” Glikberg told his staff according to a report by the local Globes newspaper.

AI and Mining Talent

Bitmain Shuts Down Research and Development Center in IsraelBitmaintech Israel was the company’s first R&D center outside of China. It created the ‘Connect BTC’ mining pool and also developed Artificial Intelligence applications for the Chinese company.

“Over the past three years, we have built an amazing team with the highest performance capabilities in the field. Our development plans included a lot of work in the field of onboarding and making digital currencies more accessible to the general public, but unfortunately the market growth and user base forecasts have not materialized. Therefore, it was sadly decided to terminate the activity and stop the work of the 23 employees of the company in Israel,” Glikberg added in his announcement to the employees.

“We are gathering together a number of applications from technology companies that have already shown an interest in recruiting staff, and our human resources department will continue to assist as much as possible in the rapid integration of our people into the job market. It was a wonderful journey, and I am saddened it ends this way, but at least we got to experience it with you – programmers and professionals among the best in the Israeli market and even the world. ”

Do you expect more cryptocurrency businesses to shut down if the market does not recover soon? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin News

USPS Shuts Down to Honor Bush

December 4, 2018 |

The US Postal Service “will suspend regular mail deliveries, retail services and administrative office activity” on Wednesday, declared a national day of mourning for former President George HW Bush. “Out of respect for the 41st President,” USPS says it will provide only limited package delivery “consistent with the Presidential Proclamation,…
Newser

US Shuts Border After Hundreds Break Blockade

November 25, 2018 |

Migrants approaching the US border from Mexico were enveloped with tear gas Sunday after a few tried to breach the fence separating the two countries, the AP reports. US agents shot the gas, according to an AP reporter on the scene. Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem. Honduran…
Newser

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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