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Law Enforcement Shuts Down Russia’s Biggest Darknet Marketplace | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Law Enforcement Shuts Down Russia’s Biggest Darknet Marketplace | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

                Russian Anonymous Marketplace aka RAMP that has been selling drugs for bitcoin since 2012 was shut down by Russian law enforcement.

According to Russian state-owned news agency TASS, deputy minister of interior affairs Mikhail Vanichkin has stated that the ministry has developed “a set of measures aimed at detection and suppression of criminal activities related to distribution of synthetic drugs, potent substances, precursors and cocaine via the internet.”
Mr. Vanichkin, however, did not disclose the particular methods that enabled the ministry to shut down the country’s biggest darknet marketplace.
According to the official data provided by the ministry of internal affairs, there have been 3,775 crimes committed with network technologies, and 1,345 online resources have been shut down.
RAMP administrators earlier stated that the platform hosted transactions for 15 thousand users a day. In 2016, RAMP’s turnover comprised 24 billion rubles (nearly $400 million).
This July, darknet’s biggest marketplace AlphaBay was shut down under direct orders by U.S. President Donald Trump. The marketplace’s administrator Alexander Kazes committed suicide after the arrest.

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Leading Cryptocurrency Exchange Poloniex Stops Servicing Crimea Residents | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Leading Cryptocurrency Exchange Poloniex Stops Servicing Crimea Residents | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

                Crimea residents are no longer able to use Poloniex services. At least that’s the conclusion from the exchange’s support team response to a query from a user resided in Crimea.

The exchange’s response reads:
“Our systems have detected that you may be in Crimea. Unfortunately Poloniex is halting use of the exchange for Crimea residents and citizens.”
The response goes on to suggest the user undergoes a verification and proves he lives elsewhere in case he believes the exchange’s decision was wrong. The verification procedure implies that a user provides the service with a photocopy of his or her passport, a phone number, and a verified place of residence.
The Poloniex adiministration noted that the limitations cover trading but not withdrawal of funds.
Notably, this turns out to be not the only one instance. A copy of another similar letter from the Poloniex support was found on the web.

Sanctions against Russia imposed by the U.S. and the E.U. due to annexation of Crimea imply that products, investments, tourism-related services, and technologies for transport, telecom, power industry as well as oil and gas industry are not to be imported to Crimea.
Back in 2014, Visa and Mastercard halted their operation in Crimea.
Meanwhile, Anatolin Aksakov, the chairman for Russia’s parliamentary committee on financial markets, has stated that cryptocurrencies could help the country bypass the sanctions.

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Vitalik Buterin: Proof-of-Stake Might Drive Ethereum Miners out of Business | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Vitalik Buterin: Proof-of-Stake Might Drive Ethereum Miners out of Business | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

                Even though mining today is quite profitable, this industry may fade into oblivion in the long run, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin told Russian publication Kommersant.

“When we transition to Proof-of-Stake, the need for Ethereum mining will abruptly decrease at the very first phase. Proof-of-Stake employs an algorithm that doesn’t require many computers to run computations all the time. It’s the algorithm that uses a token within the platform, thus making consensus much cheaper and safer. In fact, it might drive miners out of business,” he said.
Buterin also commented on the risks inherent in cryptocurrencies.
“The biggest risk is financial. Many people have talked about it, and I’m no exception. The market is extremely volatile now. It covers both major cryptocurrencies and ICO projects. This bubble may burst any moment, and the projects would lose a lot of money at once,” he said.
He also believes that exceedingly fast expansion of blockchain acceptance also holds some risks as the technology is not ready to accept this interest.
“This is what is happening to bitcoin. There isn’t enough room in the blockchain, using it becomes more and more difficult, and fees are increasing. Fees in Ethereum are less than $0.01 for now. We’re not going to break Ethereum to pieces like they did it to Bitcoin. There is no need for that, but the risks are still out there,” he said.
Buterin also noted that scam-related risks aren’t off the table as well.
“Any technology can be used for dishonest things. Ours is no exception, unfortunately, as much as we don’t want it to happen. We cannot guarantee 100% safety.”
Looking a little ways down the road, Buterin suggested that fraud schemes where con artists pose as someone else using their data will become more prominent. This kind of scam is almost immortal, Buterin says, and will be out there for a long while. Still, there will be absolutely new kinds of fraud, for instance, competence-related.
“Thus, companies issuing smart contracts may issue one with a deliberate error that would allow them to withdraw all money. There was a recent instance in our community, and thank god it happened on a lesser scale. It allows us to learn and set a mission to mitigate such risks.”
Buterin also noted that fraudulent schemes are becoming more common on the ICO market. Scammers pose fake ICO’s as a real one using fake websites, raise thousands of dollars and disappear.
Byzantium testnet will be launched September 18, which will become a milestone for the upcoming Metropolis upgrade. In a while, another upgrade dubbed Constantinople will be rolled out. The hardfork and the release of Metropolis are scheduled for early October.

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Russia’s Central Bank Issues Cryptocurrency Risks Warning | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Russia’s Central Bank Issues Cryptocurrency Risks Warning | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

The Bank of Russia believes admitting cryptocurrencies or any other financial instruments associated with digital currencies to trading and turnover in Russia’s clearing infrastructure is premature.
The statement by the regulator’s press office confirms its position dating back to 2014 concerning virtual currencies.
Last week, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev suggested that rather than a currency, bitcoin should be regulated as an asset and should be restricted to “qualified investors.”
Most cryptocurrency operations are beyond the legal terrain of Russia and most other countries, the Bank reminded.
“Cryptocurrencies are not backed and not guaranteed by the Bank of Russia,” the release reads.
The regulator believes that the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies might involve “individuals and legal entities into illegal activities, which includes money laundering and financing of terrorism.”
Aside from that, exchange rate fluctuations and technological risks may result in financial losses, the regulator stated.
“Considering the high risks inherent in turnover and utilization of cryptocurrencies, the Bank of Russia believes admitting cryptocurrencies and any financial instruments denominated in or associated with cryptocurrencies to turnover and usage at organized trading platforms, as well as in Russia’s clearing infrastructure, is premature,” the statement reads.
The Bank of Russia also noted that it is cooperating with relevant federal authorities to develop the approach towards regulation of cryptocurrencies in Russia.
“There are technological risks inherent in issuance and turnover of cryptocurrencies, as well as risks related to assignment of rights to virtual currencies. This might result in financial losses incurred by individuals, and impossibility to protect consumers rights to obtain financial services in case they’re violated,” the regulator stated.
Remarkably, Yuri Trutnev, the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far East Federal District, has recently stated that the Central Bank has allowed cryptocurrencies to Voskhod, the online system created to attract private investment in the region’s projects.

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Ukrainian Lawmakers to Decide Bitcoin’s Legal Status | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Ukrainian Lawmakers to Decide Bitcoin’s Legal Status | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers on the Financial Stability Board met last week to discuss the issue of cryptocurrency regulation. The participants engaged in a debate about the legal status of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
“Everyone understands the importance of blockchain and cryptocurrency as innovative technologies, the importance of developing the industry, protecting against illegal actions by various bodies and reasonable regulatory support,” Deputy Chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Council Tymofiy Mylovanov explained.
The Chairman of the National Securities and Stock Market Commission (NSSMC), Timur Khromaev, added:
“The question of blockchains, bitcoins, tokens and other technology solutions have already become an integral part of the financial market. Our task is to provide the corresponding legal status of these instruments in the Ukrainian financial market”.
Oleksiy Mushak, People’s Deputy from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc political party, revealed that the ministers “promised to regulate the status of bitcoin,” adding that “my impression of the meeting is more positive than fears.”
“There will be a common position of the NBU, the Ministry of Finance, the NSSMC and other regulators in this regard. It was even a desire to announce now that bitcoin and blockchain are not evil and not forbidden. But they decided to take 3 weeks…to be more thorough. A common position will be published on the sites of all regulators,” he detailed on Facebook.
Olexandr Danchenko, People’s Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, explained that participants have agreed to work with the Ministry of Finance, the NBU, the Parliament and the blockchain community “in the next 3 weeks after which it is possible to expect a positive signal for the market.”
Central Bank’s Comments
After the Financial Stability Board’s meeting, the NBU commented on the current legal status of bitcoin. NBU acting head Yakiv Smoliy said during the bank’s presentation that the central bank neither recognizes bitcoin nor prohibits bitcoin mining, reported Unian news agency.
He elaborated that bitcoin currently does not fit into any definition the bank has such as currency, money surrogate, or electronic money. Citing that bitcoin does not have a centralized issuer but is traded as a commodity, he said,“we believe that it is not a currency.”
“We cannot determine what it is today,” he declared, noting that the regulators will find its definition within the framework of the Financial Stability Board as soon as possible.

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Three People Arrested in Russia for Illegally Trading Bitcoin | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Three People Arrested in Russia for Illegally Trading Bitcoin | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Last week, Russian police arrested three men for illegally trading in 500 million rubles worth of bitcoin, or around $9 million worth of the cryptocurrency. Arrests were made approximately 260 miles northeast of Moscow in the city of Kostroma. 
The arrest marks the start of the first-ever criminal case against bitcoin sales in Russia, Vedomosti business daily reported last Friday.

According to Ministry of Internal Affairs press officer, Irina Volk, those arrested illegally cashed the millions in bitcoin and are being brought up on charges of “Illegal Banking”.
The operations came to light after investigators found an unusual amount of activity in bank accounts stemming from 300 bank cards and sim cards used to store the digital currency. The money was being shifted into different accounts owned by family members, prosecutors believe.
A legal framework for bitcoin in Russia is still being devised by the country’s various central and financial authorities, but no concrete regulatory proposals have been put forth at this time. All of this could slow the process of ultimately legalizing the transfer of bitcoin into rubles. The political will exists to make it happen, but Russia is as keen as showing it can bust money launderers as it is showing that it’s a player in the new-digital economy.
There have been cases in the past when Russian courts have blocked bitcoin exchanges and websites where people could have traded the cryptocurrency to rubles, but last week’s arrests marked the first time that Russia has lodged criminal charges against individual people.
The arrests also come on the heels of reports that the government is looking at restricting its citizens’ access to cryptocurrencies under the guise of consumer protection. Last week, Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev suggested that rather than a currency, bitcoin should be regulated as an asset and should be restricted to “qualified investors.”

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China Bans Initial Coin Offerings as Illegal Fundraising | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

China Bans Initial Coin Offerings as Illegal Fundraising | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Regulators in China have banned all initial public coin offerings (ICOs) pending a review and the possible introduction of regulations to control the booming market.
News that China was considering banning ICOs emerged last week when it was reported that China’s Securities and Futures Commission, the China Banking Regulatory Commission and other regulators had met and were considering a ban on all ICOs until concerns about risks were addressed.
The prices of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other largest cryptocurrencies, slumped after the announcement.

As SiliconAngle reports, the decision to ban ICOs came into force over the weekend. A top-level ICO conference scheduled to be held in Beijing was canceled and major ICO trading platforms were informed by regulators that all ICOs are now officially banned because they were involved in “illegal money raising.”
Notably, individuals and organizations that have completed ICO fundraisings should make arrangements to return funds, said a joint statement from the People’s Bank of China, the securities and banking regulators and other government departments, that was posted on the central bank’s website.

The People’s Bank of China released a statement saying that all ICO’s should be stopped immediately. $ETH #Bitcoin https://t.co/x3Ip2nJffY
— WhalePanda (@WhalePanda) 4 September 2017

Among those confirmed as complying with the ban is bitcoin exchange BTCChina, which according to local media only launched support for ICOs last week. Another ICO exchange, called ICOINFO, ceased trading last week ahead of the introduction of the ban.
In a separate report, Asia Times claimed on Monday that along with the immediate ban of all ICOs in the country, China’s “Remediation Office of Risks in Internet Finance” has ordered that all ICOs in the country be investigated by local regulatory authorities.
The National Internet Finance Association of China had previously issued a warning to investors that some ICOs are using “misleading propaganda” to promote financing activities, that the fundraising activities are taking place without regulatory approval, and that some of those ICOs are suspected of being involved in fraud, the sales of illegal securities, illegal fundraising and other acts.

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Putin Advisor Announces Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Putin Advisor Announces Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

The chief internet advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the creation of a new association focused on blockchain and cryptocurrency.
According to local news source RNS, Herman Klimenko revealed the new group – the Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (RABIK) – during an industry discussion regarding the technicalities of initial coin offerings, or ICOs.
Set up to promote blockchain technologies in “government and commercial structures,” the association will also work to develop a dialogue with regulators over the “legitimization” of the technology, RNS said.
According to a statement by the Institute for Internet Development (IRI), RABIK is aimed at blockchain technologists, miners, cryptocurrency holders and ICO investors, and will allow participants certain advantages in the industry.
The IRI specified:
“Participants of the association, among other things, will be given various preferences, including from manufacturers of equipment for creating cryptocurrencies, the opportunity to present their technologies to potential consumers and participate in major state events”.
The development follows statements by deputy minister of finance Alexei Moiseev, who said the ministry proposes to consider cryptocurrencies a financial asset, and sell them via the Moscow Stock Exchange under the supervision by the Rosfinmonitoring. According to the plan, only qualified investors will be able to access buy and sell operations.

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Russia to Ban Selling Bitcoin to Individuals | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Russia to Ban Selling Bitcoin to Individuals | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Russia’s ministry of finance intends to ban selling bitcoins to individuals, the deputy minister of finance Alexei Moiseyev stated in his interview with Rossiya-24 news channel.
According to him, the ministry proposes to consider cryptocurrencies a financial asset, and sell them via the Moscow Stock Exchange under the supervision by the Rosfinmonitoring.
Only qualified investors will be able to access buy and sell operations.
Earlier, the head of the interdepartmental working group on cryptocurrencies Elina Sidorenko told ForkLog that the bill introducing cryptocurrencies to the country’s legal terrain included provisions on establishing private exchanges for individuals and legal entities. She said that those platforms had to be private in order to avoid state monopolism for cryptocurrencies.
Sarkis Darbinian, the head of legal practices at NPO Roskomsvoboda, on the other hand, suggested that certain bans are not off the table as the authorities seeks to control currency flows.

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Bitcoin Exchange BTC-e Cites Political Motives Behind Crackdown | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

Bitcoin Exchange BTC-e Cites Political Motives Behind Crackdown | Bitcoin, Blockhain, Cryptocurrencies, Fintech

BTC-e operators have made an announcement confirming the platform is preparing for re-launch.
In their update at Bitcointalk, the spokespersons for the exchange wrote:
“Currently the process of transferring digital resources to the investment company is underway. The company is preparing for re-launch. As announced earlier, users will be able to withdraw 55% of their assets after the launch.”
The exchange has also stated that it sees political motives and pressure from the U.S. authorities behind the exchange’s shutdown last month.
BTC-e was the target of a law enforcement operation in late July, during which one of its alleged operators was arrested in Greece. U.S. authorities later seized BTC-e’s web domain and unsealed a 21-count indictment, accusing Russian national Alexander Vinnik and BTC-e of facilitating the laundering of billions of dollars via bitcoin, along with a $110 million fine.
Yet days after the arrest, a forum account long associated with BTC-e posted a pledge to relaunch the exchange, promising to return funds to those who were held accounts at the time of the shutdown.
The next statement is scheduled for August 30th, with daily updates promised to published thereafter.
The latest BTC-e update was published on August 14th, which featured the new plan of refunding the investors who incurred losses.

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