Also today, federal agencies have been accused of using the current banking crisis in the U.S. "to choke off digital assets."
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Sam Bankman-Fried has asked FTX's new management to put him at the top of the payout list — and cover his legal expenses. The 30-year-old wants access to the exchange's director and officer insurance policies, which are worth $10 million. If this request is granted by the bankruptcy court, he could receive millions of dollars before anyone else caught up in the proceedings gets a dime. SBF is facing 12 charges including multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy — as well as anti-money laundering and campaign finance law violations — in relation to the alleged theft of $10 billion worth of FTX customer funds to prevent his private trading firm Alameda Research from going bust.
An exiled Chinese businessman with ties to ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon has been charged with defrauding investors out of $1 billion. Guo Wengui is accused of creating a gold-backed coin and claiming it had surged from $0.10 to $27 within two weeks. Prosecutors claim he used ill-gotten gains on buying mansions, yachts and Ferraris — not to mention two $36,000 mattresses and a $62,000 television. The SEC's enforcement director Gurbir Grewal said: "Guo took advantage of the hype and allure surrounding crypto and other investments to victimize thousands and fund his and his family's lavish lifestyle." Incidentally, Bannon was arrested on Guo's yacht back in 2020 after being charged with siphoning money from the "We Build The Wall" fund, which was collected to establish a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico.
The European Central Bank is increasing its base interest rate by 0.5 percentage points — despite a crisis that is gripping the banking sector. There had been speculation that economists in Brussels would opt for a smaller increase given the crises triggered by the collapse of three U.S. financial institutions last week. Panic has now spread to Credit Suisse, which has uncovered "material weakness" in its financial reporting — meaning it has needed to borrow $54 billion. While the ECB said that Europe's banking system is "resilient," it warned "inflation is projected to remain too high for too long." All eyes will now be on the Federal Reserve in the U.S., which is expected to introduce its own rate hike next Wednesday.
Two key upgrades to the Ethereum blockchain — Shanghai and Capella — will soon allow Ethereum validators to withdraw their staked ETH for the first time since 2020. But Coinbase has warned that those wishing to do so should expect delays that could last weeks or months. While The Merge has been successfully completed, 17.6 million ETH with a current market value of $29.2 billion remains out of reach. "Since the Ethereum protocol controls the unstaking process and we’re simply the conduit, we can't share an exact waiting period when you request to unstake," the exchange explained. It also stressed that those who want to continue staking won't need to take any action once the upgrades come into effect.
Financial institutions that are interested in acquiring Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank have until tomorrow to put in a bid, according to reports. But Reuters has claimed that any buyer who snaps up Signature must agree to give up all its crypto business — prompting allegations that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is trying to further isolate the digital asset markets from traditional banking. After the story was published, an FDIC official challenged this — and said it would not require "divestment of crypto activities as part of any sale." The corporation's chairman, Martin Gruenberg, has previously stressed that his agency wasn't trying to limit particular banking activities.
Federal agencies have been accused of using the current banking crisis in the U.S. "to choke off digital assets." Republican Congressman Tom Emmer claims that the Biden administration is pushing "American crypto firms, and their American customers, into offshore, unregulated, opaque and unsafe markets." All of this comes after a week where Silvergate Bank announced it was winding down, with SVB and Signature Bank shuttered by regulators. He now wants to know whether the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has instructed banks under its supervision to avoid providing crypto firms with banking services — or hinted that life will be more onerous for those with clients in the digital assets space.
A Bitcoin mixing service has been shut down by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Germany. ChipMixer's alleged operator, Minh Quốc Nguyễn, has also been indicted — but he is yet to be arrested. Over 1,900 BTC has also been seized, as well as 7TB of data. Officials say the international operation has "disabled a prolific cryptocurrency mixer, which has fueled ransomware attacks, state-sponsored crypto heists and darknet purchases across the globe." It's believed that, over the past five years, ChipMixer has been relied upon by North Korean hackers, Russian military intelligence and darknet sellers of drugs and other illicit products. The U.S. in particular has been aggressively clamping down on coin mixers of late.