Bitcoin Weekly Recap 5-27-2016
New York State Police Aided by Bitcoin Firms in Deep Web Crime Bust
The United States Treasury recently presented the New York State Police Financial Crimes Unit and the State Police Suspicious Activity Review Team with awards for their respective roles in helping to identify a deep web criminal enterprise. Those law enforcement groups were reportedly aided by an undisclosed number of unidentified Bitcoin-related companies that assisted the investigators in their efforts to trace the money to the alleged perpetrators.
The investigation was launched after the Suspicious Activity Review Team noticed that one individual had made $170,000 worth of small deposits over the course of a six-month period of time. Further investigation revealed that the money was then used to purchase Bitcoin from different bank accounts, each of which was closed after those cryptocurrency transactions were complete. With the help of those unidentified Bitcoin firms, investigators were able to trace the money to the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators. At least one arrest was made, and narcotics were seized at the scene.
It’s Official: Japan Now Regulating Bitcoin Exchanges
On Wednesday, the Japanese Diet formally approved a bill that requires regulation of Bitcoin and other digital currency exchanges. In a move that many have believed to be all but inevitable given the magnitude of the Tokyo-based MtGox fiasco more than two years ago, exchange operators will now be required to formally register their operations with the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA).
Exchange operators have been generally supportive of the proposed regulations. Many have been understandable concerned about a perceived loss of public confidence, and were eager to have a more formal system of accountability so that citizens could feel comfortable trusting the industry once again. Moreover, many in the industry understand that these types of regulations provide Bitcoin with the type of legal status that can encourage greater investment in the industry and help to foster more widespread acceptance of all digital currencies.
Kraken to Refund Lost MtGox Bitcoins in Near Future
As many readers already know, the Kraken exchange had been charged with overseeing the MtGox estate, and tasked with the seemingly monumental task of reviewing the filings of thousands of the failed Japanese exchange’s customers – all of whom are seeking the return of coins they claim they lost when more than 650,000 Bitcoins disappeared in early 2014. While many of those claims were rejected for varying reasons, Kraken has identified the legitimate victims of the fiasco and is now preparing to release $91 million in Bitcoins to those claimants.
MultiBit Accepts Purchase Offer from KeepKey LLC
In a blog post earlier this week, MultiBit confirmed that the company had accepted a purchase offer from hardware wallet maker KeepKey LLC. The agreement will see KeepKey taking control over MultiBit’s operations, including its code and company website, within the next several weeks. KeepKey has reportedly expressed its commitment to maintaining the open source nature of the MultiBit project, and users should see only minor differences in their service once these changes go into effect.
European Parliament Resolution: EU Needs Bitcoin Watchdog
The European Parliament continues to express its concerns over the use of Bitcoin and other digital currencies for terror financing and money laundering, and this week issued a resolution calling for the creation of a monitoring task force to help serve as a watchdog against abuse of the technology. While non-binding, that resolution received widespread approval among the members of Parliament, passing with 542 affirmative votes. Only 51 members opposed passage, with another 11 members abstaining from the vote altogether.
The proposal’s ultimate fate is now in the hands of the European Commission, which is even now in the process of exploring other proposals that would apply the EU AML Directive to Bitcoin exchanges. If passed as currently envisioned, the proposal’s language would create a taskforce under the Commission’s supervision. That watchdog group would be charged with developing expertise in Bitcoin and blockchain technology so that it could propose additional legislation as needed.