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| September 24, 2018

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Ex-Liberia Central Bank Chief Under Probe for Missing $104M, State Seeks FBI Help

September 20, 2018 |

Ex-Liberia Central Bank Chief Under Probe for Missing $  104M, State Seeks FBI Help

More than a dozen government officials, including former central bank governor and his deputy, have come under investigation in Liberia after $ 104 million of newly printed banknotes vanished from the state purse. Liberia has issued a travel ban to Milton Weeks, the ex-Central Bank of Liberia chief, his deputy Charles Sirleaf, son of former president Ellen Jonhson Sirleaf,  and several others pending the investigation.

Also read: Brazil’s Biggest Banks Under Investigation For Monopoly In Cryptocurrency Trade

Liberia Enlists FBI, IMF To Help Recover Missing Funds

The Liberian government has enlisted the United States of America and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist in the investigation of L$ 16 billion (roughly US$ 104 million), which disappeared from state coffers.

Ex-Liberia Central Bank Chief Under Probe for Missing $  104M, State Seeks FBI Help

This comes as the West African country on Wednesday barred at least 15 people, including former central bank governor Milton Weeks and Charles Sirleaf, son of the former president, from leaving the country pending the investigation.

According to the Liberian ObserverPresident George Weah’s administration approached the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Treasury Department and the IMF seeking assistance in the ongoing probe, to “adequately account for all flaws of monies printed and brought into the country between 2016 and 2018.”

Liberia’s Justice Ministry indicated that the investigation is critical to the formulation and implementation of a credible and robust monetary and macroeconomic policy in the years ahead.

The missing cash – the equivalent of nearly 5% of Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product – was ordered by the Central Bank of Liberia from printers in Sweden, China, and Lebanon but is yet to be traced after a series of shipments.

Liberia does do its own mint.

Records show that the money went missing between November 2017, toward the end of former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf second term in office, and August this year.

‘We Know Nothing About Missing Money’

Milton Weeks, who claims ignorance over the missing millions, says that he’s fully co-operating with police investigations.

Ex-Liberia Central Bank Chief Under Probe for Missing $  104M, State Seeks FBI Help
Milton Weeks

“I have been invited to come and assist with the investigation and I’m doing that, I myself want us to get to the bottom of this to understand where the allegation is coming from,” he is quoted as saying.

Ex-president Johnson-Sirleaf said the investigation was baseless, designed to soil her reputation and those with whom she served.

“It is most unfortunate that the government of Liberia would give false information that wickedly impugns the reputation of past officials and by extension the country itself,” she told African news site FPA.

The Information Ministry on Thursday insisted that newly minted Liberian banknotes entered the country through the Roberts International Airport and the Freeport of Monrovia, from where they vanished.

Ex-Liberia Central Bank Chief Under Probe for Missing $  104M, State Seeks FBI Help
President Weah

The Ministry says President Weah was “never in the know of the money being brought into the country, something (which) is very strange.

Liberian officials have a history of stealing public funds. Charles Taylor, the jailed former dictator who was forced out of office in 2003, is believed to have stolen or diverted nearly $ 100 million of his country’s wealth, leaving it the poorest nation on earth, according to a close review of government records by United Nations team of experts.

A 2013 report in the New York Times revealed how Taylor stole government money to buy houses, cars, and sexual partners.

Do you think cryptocurrencies can help to prevent theft of public funds in Africa? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock


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The post Ex-Liberia Central Bank Chief Under Probe for Missing $ 104M, State Seeks FBI Help appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

CNN

Crime-ridden Mexican state is storing unclaimed bodies in a refrigerated truck

September 18, 2018 |

Two weeks after residents of Tlaquepaque, Mexico began complaining about a terrible smell coming from a local warehouse, they discovered the reason for the odor was a refrigerated truck with 150 unclaimed bodies inside.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – Regions – Americas

Wyoming’s Crypto Cowboys: First State Hackathon Lures 27 Teams

September 16, 2018 |

Wyoming’s Crypto Cowboys: First State Hackathon Lures 27 Teams

Over nearly three days on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, more than two dozen hacker teams competed for cash and prizes in the state’s first ever Wyohackathon: Breakin’ Through. Organized by the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, the event included speakers from industry luminaries, and all three of the state’s gubernatorial candidates made an appearance.

Also read: Billion Dollar ICO Industry Governed by Securities Law, Judge Rules

Wyoming’s Wyohackathon Smashed Expectations

When asked about the hackathon’s result, “The event smashed our expectations,” organizer Caitlin Long replied enthusiastically to news.Bitcoin.com. “We anticipated about 10 teams would compete but we had 27. The quality of the submissions was terrific, including one from a senior Google engineer, and I believe more than a handful of these projects will turn into real businesses.”

Wyoming has quietly, ploddingly built up quite a reputation within the cryptocurrency community. Just this year alone, the state’s legislature approved close to half of a dozen blockchain friendly laws at the behest of Representative Tyler Lindholm and the newly formed Wyoming Blockchain Coalition.

Wyoming’s Crypto Cowboys: First State Hackathon Lures 27 Teams
Organizer Caitlin Long poses with sponsor signage; Bitcoin.com was a Hacker sponsor.

In fact, there was so much momentum the state went as far as exempting cryptos from money transmitter laws, overtly made utility tokens safe from securities regulators, flatly rejecting taxing cryptos as property, recommending incorporating blockchain tech into corporate records, and forged new codes for LLCs involving the nascent technology.

That it would then actively recruit devs and coding teams to a hackathon might come as little surprise. “A hackathon is a marathon coding session,” explained Ms. Long to news.Bitcoin.com, “that typically lasts over a weekend. Participants ‘hack together’ code from code libraries and add new lines of code to produce a solution to a challenge.”

Wyoming’s Crypto Cowboys: First State Hackathon Lures 27 Teams

Wyoming Gubernatorial Candidates Attend 

Ms. Long is quick to reiterate legislative successes as driving the event idea. “Wyoming passed 5 blockchain-friendly laws earlier this year, and having a hackathon on the University of Wyoming campus to bring start-ups to the state was a logical next step. The University’s motto is ‘Bucking the System Since 1886’ – it fits the blockchain industry well. Moreover, UW has been teaching blockchain classes for more than a year already,” she stressed.

Asked about the state’s response to an event with the word ‘hack’ in it, not normally something politicians would wish to be associated with, Ms. Long doubles down, “We had all 3 candidates for governor of Wyoming judge and speak to participants. This shows that the blockchain momentum we had under Governor Mead will continue under the next governor. It also let the candidates see how special the blockchain industry is, and interact with some of its pioneers who were in attendance.” Indeed, Ethereum co-founder and founder of Consensys, Joseph Lubin, along with Overstock.com’s Patrick Byrne, both early supporters of the tech and the space, were eager to offer their time by being in attendance.

Wyoming’s Crypto Cowboys: First State Hackathon Lures 27 Teams
Mr. Cardona (L) of BITBOX tweeted, “There is something special happening in #Wyoming.”

As for the hackathon becoming a regular fixture in the state, Ms. Long explained she hoped so. “UW did a great job for the participants, and at the end many were begging us to do it again next year – the facilities were perfect, the food was great and abundant, the wifi was also very good, and we provided cots donated by the Red Cross for participants to nap during the event. The biggest complaint we heard was lack of vegan food, which we solved – next year we’ll fix that!”

Also in attendance were 12 year-old CEO of Pocketful of Quarters, George Weiksner, Dr. Robert Macinnis CEO of Active Aether (which announced his company’s move from New York City to Wyoming), Gabriel Cardona of BITBOX and Bitcoin.com, and many others. Winners included First Place, $ 12,000 (Sponsor – University of Wyoming) – Token Subscription Team; Second Place, $ 8,000 (Sponsor – University of Wyoming) – Peregrine Team; Third Place, $ 4,000 (Sponsor – University of Wyoming) – Wyoflow Team; Most Creative, $ 1,000 (Sponsor – University of Wyoming) – Cowgirl Technologies Team; Audience Favorite, $ 1,000 (Sponsor – University of Wyoming) – Rawhide Team; Best Use of Technology, $ 1,000 (Sponsor – University of Wyoming) – Topicless Team, among many others.

What do you think about hackathons? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, Wyohackathon.


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The post Wyoming’s Crypto Cowboys: First State Hackathon Lures 27 Teams appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

CNN

State Department confirms Pompeo received letter from Kim to Trump

September 8, 2018 |

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has received a letter from Kim Jong Un to US President Donald Trump, according to a State Department official.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

Shots fired in standoff at Washington state car dealership

September 7, 2018 |

Police responding to a hostage situation Thursday night said a barricaded suspect opened fire at deputies from inside a Parkland business.
FOX News

Some small business owners could avoid cap on state and local tax deduction after IRS clarifies new rules

September 6, 2018 |

Small business owners could avoid a new federal limit on state and local tax deductions after the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday that rules it released last month to prevent efforts in California and other states to circumvent the cap apply only to individuals.

Businesses will be allowed…


L.A. Times – Business

50 Percent Energy Rate Hike for Crypto Miners Approved in Central Washington State

September 2, 2018 |

50 Percent Energy Rate Hike for Crypto Miners Approved in Central Washington State

The commissioners of a public utility district in central Washington State have unanimously approved a rate hike for cryptocurrency miners. The utility serves over 46,000 customers throughout the county. The cost increase starts at 15 percent beginning next year, 35 percent the following year, and 50 percent thereafter.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Rate Hike for Crypto Miners Approved

50 Percent Energy Rate Hike for Crypto Miners Approved in Central Washington StateThe commissioners of the Grant County public utility district (PUD) in Washington State, on August 28, “unanimously approved the new Rate 17 for evolving industries,” according to the utility. Grant PUD serves over 46,000 customers throughout the county, its website states. PUDs are nonprofit, community-owned, governed utilities that provide electricity, water, wholesale telecommunications and sewer services.

The decision to raise the energy rates on crypto miners was made after “nearly a year of analysis, staff outreach to the county’s cryptocurrency firms and public comment on the new rate at every commission meeting since the rate’s initial proposal in early May,” the utility explained, elaborating:

Starting April 1, cryptocurrency miners and other ‘evolving-industry’ firms will pay the first of a three-year, graduated increase to a new, above-cost electric rate designed to protect Grant PUD from risk and preserve below-cost rates for core customers.

Mining Viewed as High-Risk

50 Percent Energy Rate Hike for Crypto Miners Approved in Central Washington StateAn industry falls under the Evolving Industry Class based on its risk, Grant PUD noted.

“At this time, all Grant PUD customers in the evolving-industry profile are miners of cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, each with very high energy demand,” the utility revealed. “Since summer 2017, Grant PUD has received new service inquiries for more than 2,000 megawatts of power — more than three times the electricity needed to power all Grant County homes, farms, businesses and industry. Approximately 75 percent of those requests are from cryptocurrency miners.”

Grant PUD detailed:

Rate 17 [Evolving Industry Class] customers will receive a 15-percent increase next year, a 35-percent increase in 2020 and a 50-percent increase in 2021, when the new rate will be fully in effect. Any new evolving-industry customers would come in at the rate-phase in effect at the time they begin operations

Furthermore, the utility added that “each annual increase will be calculated on the difference between what the evolving-industry customer is paying now (per kilowatt hour) and the higher, target rate.”

Tom Flint, a Grant PUD commissioner, told the miners who attended the meeting:

Your industry is unregulated and high-risk…This is the best way to ensure our ratepayers are not impacted by this unregulated, high-risk business.

What do you think of the new energy rate hike for crypto miners? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Grant PUD.


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The post 50 Percent Energy Rate Hike for Crypto Miners Approved in Central Washington State appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

CNN

Politician kicked out of German state parliament for bringing her baby

August 31, 2018 |

A politician was forced to leave a state parliament during a vote because she brought her baby, highlighting the difficulties faced by lawmakers with children.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

Online Propaganda Builds Islamic State Brand

August 29, 2018 |

Even as Islamic State has lost territory in Syria and Iraq, it reigns supreme in cyberspace, where its critical recruitment and marketing tool has helped it build a brutish brand using propaganda and sometimes false claims.
WSJ.com: What’s News Europe

The Golden State Killer Case Had a ‘Secret Detective’

August 26, 2018 |

Barbara Rae-Venter isn’t exactly a household name—but the 70-year-old retired attorney and genealogist was a key factor in the Golden State Killer investigation, the San Jose Mercury News reports. “Her expertise proved to be invaluable,” says Paul Holes, a retired inspector who’s been credited with solving the case (and…
Newser