Also today, after Tornado Cash was targeted by U.S. officials, could Railgun be next?
Gemini is reportedly undergoing its third major round of layoffs. The exchange, owned by the Winklevoss twins, has been badly affected by Genesis' bankruptcy. Some $900 million is owed to 340,000 people with Gemini Earn accounts. Reports suggest the trading platform will now cut 10% of roles — that's in addition to a 10% reduction last June, and another 7% cut in July. In a message to staff seen by The Information, Cameron Winklevoss blamed "persistent negative macroeconomic conditions and unprecedented fraud perpetuated by bad actors in our industry" for the cuts. In a bankruptcy court, Genesis lawyers said there have been "around-the-clock" negotiations with creditors, something Winklevoss might dispute.
Europol has claimed that almost half of all transactions on Bitzlato were linked to crime. The exchange "is suspected of facilitating the laundering of large amounts of criminal proceeds and converting them into roubles," officials said. Bitzlato has now been shut down, and its Russian founder was dramatically arrested in Miami. Four others, including its CEO, financial director and marketing director, were arrested in Spain and Cyprus. Its digital infrastructure was seized in France, offering investigators new channels to pursue. Making the announcement last week, the U.S. Department of Justice declared that it had "dealt a significant blow to the cryptocrime ecosystem."
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has proposed a method of hiding the identity of the recipients of all ERC-20 tokens. In a blog post, he suggested updating the blockchain to support single-use "stealth addresses." This would support NFTs, Ethereum Name Service addresses and more obscure altcoins, too. Buterin warned that, right now, using Ethereum applications "involves making a significant portion of your life public for anyone to see and analyze." Stressing this would not involve creating a new coin mixer, he explained: "Stealth addresses give the same privacy properties as Bob generating a fresh address for each transaction, but without requiring any interaction from Bob."
The FBI has confirmed that North Korean hackers used Railgun to launder more than $60 million stolen from Harmony's Horizon Bridge last year. Which leads to one big question: will it be the next target of crypto sanctions by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control? In August, OFAC broke new ground by imposing sanctions on Tornado, a fully DAO-controlled decentralized finance project that became the first-ever piece of software hit with sanctions, which had previously only been imposed on people or businesses — which are legally "people." Unlike a traditional mixing service, Railgun does not seek to obfuscate transactions by mixing multiple transactions together. Instead it uses zk-SNARKS cryptography.
The European Central Bank will not issue a digital euro that can be programmed to limit how it is used, an executive board member says. While it would be possible to program a regular payment — paying rent for example — Fabio Panetta said an EU CBDC could not "set any limitations on where, when or to whom people can pay with a digital euro." In the U.S., for example, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — which used to be known as Food Stamps — cannot use the funds for alcoholic beverages, cooked food, restaurants or non-food items like laundry detergent usually found in supermarkets. Such limitations, Panetta said, "would be tantamount to a voucher."