Mastermind Who Planned Iceland’s Biggest Bitcoin Heist Jailed for 4.5 Years

Mastermind Who Planned Iceland’s Biggest Bitcoin Heist Jailed for 4.5 Years

News Last year, Sindri Stefansson was arrested for his part in what has been described as the biggest heist Iceland has seen – over $2 million worth of Bitcoin mining equipment stolen in an operation that left police baffled. He has now been jailed for four and a half years along with his team of thieves.  Also read: Iceland’s ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’: Suspects Charged With Over $2M in Stolen Mining Rigs ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ Sindri Por Stefansson hit headlines last year after managing to escape from his jail cell following his arrest for stealing millions of dollars of mining equipment. Local media have since reported that he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment last week. His six other partners in crime were jailed for a total of nine years and seven months. Advania, the mining company that the gear was stolen from, received over $200,000 in compensation. The crime, dubbed the ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ by the media, saw the men steal over 600 mining computers from Advania. The equipment has yet to be recovered. Stefansson managed to escape from Sogn prison and board a flight to Stockholm at the international airport in Keflavik. According to police, he was using someone else’s passport. In an even stranger twist, Stefansson found himself on the same plane as the country’s prime minister while on the run. He was later arrested in Amsterdam. In an interview with the New York Times, Stefansson said he was looking at international flights on his phone – which weren’t prohibited in his prison – before he booked one and climbed out of his low-security jail cell window. After hitchhiking to Keflavik, he grabbed a plane from the country’s largest airport to Stockholm and from there got to Amsterdam via train, bus and taxi. Not the First Heist Stefansson’s case made headlines around the world because low-crime Iceland, with its population of little over 338,000, is a difficult place to be a fugitive – let alone flee from. In the heist, Stefansson and his crew were reportedly able to steal 225 fully functional Bitmain mining rigs with the help of an insider, and wore security uniforms as part of their deception. It wasn’t their first attempt to steal from bitcoin miners, either. In December 2017 the group had stolen 100…

Falcon Private Bank Launches Crypto Wallet With Support for Direct BTC and BCH Transfers

Falcon Private Bank Launches Crypto Wallet With Support for Direct BTC and BCH Transfers

Wallets Switzerland’s Falcon Private Bank has introduced a cryptocurrency wallet as well as support for direct transfers of BTC, BCH, ETH and LTC for private and institutional investors. The bank said investors can now directly transfer cryptocurrencies to and from its own “segregated Falcon wallets.” They can also convert their digital coins into cash. Also read: Chile to Start Taxing Cryptocurrency Earnings in Second Quarter of 2019 ‘Fully Bankable Blockchain Assets’ In a press release published on Jan. 21, Falcon claimed that its latest offering “makes blockchain assets fully bankable.” The Zurich-based bank also claimed to provide secure storage thanks to its “proprietary custody solution.” “Clients can place trading orders conveniently through e-banking or a dedicated relationship manager,” said Falcon. “Digital assets are included in portfolio statements as well as in tax reporting documents.” The bank stated it had developed a process that ensures full compliance with Switzerland’s anti-money laundering and know-your-customer laws and regulations. It claimed to have a multi-level protection that covers hardware, software, and transaction processes. “Our custody solution has been audited and reviewed by independent providers,” Falcon detailed. Martin Keller, chief executive officer of the Swiss private bank, commented: Falcon has … demonstrated its expertize … in the digital assets space by merging traditional private banking services with innovative financial solutions.  Progressive Switzerland Allows Crypto Firms to Flourish Founded in 1965 as Ueberseebank, Falcon Private Bank is Switzerland’s 26th largest foreign-controlled bank by total assets. The bank has more than $15 billion worth of client assets under management and has offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London and Zurich. It was licensed as a bitcoin asset management company by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) in July 2017. However, the bank has reportedly set its minimum bitcoin investment threshold at two million Swiss francs ($2 million), cutting off many Swiss citizens from investing through it. Switzerland has taken a progressive stance toward cryptocurrencies by legalizing their use and formalizing crypto transactions in a range of different contexts. But some crypto projects still struggle to open bank accounts, and cryptocurrency-focused bankers and investors still complain about a relative lack of regulatory clarity, as it remains unclear whether cryptocurrencies can be considered legal tender in certain contexts. Switzerland sees virtual money and blockchain technology as strategic innovations…

Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Stellar, Litecoin, TRON, Bitcoin SV, Cardano: Price Analysis, Jan. 21

Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Stellar, Litecoin, TRON, Bitcoin SV, Cardano: Price Analysis, Jan. 21

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision. The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. Marcus Hughes, the United Kingdom lead counsel for major United States crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase, expects huge developments for Bitcoin (BTC) in the next two years. Hughes is confident about the European Union coming up with a more defined regulatory framework for crypto in 2019. After the regulations are in place, Hughes anticipates large investment banks to finally enter the scene. U.K.-based investor and entrepreneur Alistair Milne is confident that Bitcoin will break out of its lifetime high and sustain above it. He has based his opinion on the anticipated increase of the level of adoption of the leading cryptocurrency. Milne is certain that Bitcoin will survive for another 100 years. Similar to how prices tend to overshoot to the upside during a bull market, they also usually overshoot to the downside. Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, believes that a lot of development has taken place in the crypto space, implying that cryptocurrencies are currently undervalued. So should the traders start buying? Let’s find out.   BTC/USD Bitcoin (BTC) has been trading below the moving averages since Jan. 10. Attempts by the bulls to push the price higher have been met with selling at the moving averages. This is a bearish sign. The cryptocurrency hasn’t been able to make a higher high and a higher low, a signal that we were watching out for. A set of higher highs and higher lows would indicate a probable change in trend. If the bears force the price below $3,236.09, it will be a new lower low that would confirm the continuation of the downtrend. The first sign of a probable change in trend will be when the BTC/USD pair breaks out of the downtrend line and sustains above it. The recovery will gain strength if the bulls scale above $4,255. Until then, every rise to the resistance levels will be sold into. We might suggest long positions closer to $3,236.09 if the price rebounds sharply from the…

Crypto Exchange CEO Sentenced to 3-Year Jail Term for Faking Trading Volume

Crypto Exchange CEO Sentenced to 3-Year Jail Term for Faking Trading Volume

Two executives from South Korean crypto exchange Komid have been handed down jail time for faking trading volume and deceiving investors. According to a report from CoinDesk Korea, the firm’s CEO Hyunsuk Choi received a three-year sentence for his role in the crime, as well as for embezzlement. Another member of the team, Park Mo, got two years, according to local news source Blockinpress. Choi, the court found, made a number of fake accounts on the exchange in January 2018, and, using a trading bot, made millions of false transactions with cryptocurrency and Korean won credit that did not actually exist. The court – presided over by South Korea’s top judge Ahn Seong-joon – also ruled that Choi had transferred bitcoin from the exchange to an external wallet, said CoinDesk Korea. According to Blockinpress, which added that the crime brought in around $45 million in fees, the judge said: “Choi has committed fraud for a countless number of victims for a long period of time … Futhermore, he holds the financial authorities responsible for failing to keep track of the industry better.” Choi was reportedly arrested after the sentencing hearing. In April, South Korean police detained four executives from two cryptocurrency exchanges over alleged embezzlement. One of those questioned was the CEO of Coinnest, while the identities of the other executives and the other exchange were not made public at the time. Handcuffs  image via Shutterstock

Blockchain.com Seeks Undisclosed Stablecoin Partnership by End of 2019: Report

Blockchain.com Seeks Undisclosed Stablecoin Partnership by End of 2019: Report

Crypto wallet provider Blockchain.com is seeking to partner with an unnamed stablecoin project by the end of 2019, the firm’s CEO Peter Smith revealed in an interview with crypto news agency The Block Jan. 21. Blockchain.com, which reportedly provides 32 million wallets, with most of them active to date, is allegedly considering listing a stablecoin on its platform. In the interview, the CEO of Blockchain.com stressed that the existing high competition in stablecoins will eventually make the market even more active than it is now. Smith reportedly stated that the firm “will make a move in there soon,” claiming that Blockchain.com is “not here to just make it easy to invest in Bitcoin (BTC).” Smith explained his positive stance on stablecoins, suggesting that the biggest cryptocurrencies have become more of an investment vehicle rather than tool for making transactions. He continued: “For us, stablecoins give us the power of giving everyone a U.S. dollar checking account. […] There’s no challenger bank with 30 million bank accounts. At the same time as we do that, we’ll be doing it in a way that allows them to still control their funds, to still be financially sovereign individuals.” While Smith has not specified any exact details about the planned partnership, he noted that Blockchain.com previously invested in a number of still undisclosed stablecoin projects. He also mentioned major stablecoins including Tether (USDT) and Paxos (PAX), stressing that the latter acquires the most trading volume and liquidity. In November 2018, Blockchain.com fully launched support for the Stellar (XLM) altcoin on its platform, claiming that the company decided to chose the cryptocurrency due to its scalability capacity, as well as for its capability to create custom tokens. Prior to that, the company was listing Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). According to the report, Blockchain.com has operated 100 million transactions since its inception back in 2011, and has originally raised $70 million from such companies as Digital Currency Group and Google Ventures. In June 2018, Blockchain,com launched an institutional trading platform including over-the-counter (OTC) trading desk, with OTC services reportedly managed through BPS by a team of specialists from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and UBS.

Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrency

Russian Institutions Back Proposal to Let Companies Use Cryptocurrency

Economy & Regulation An idea to allow companies from certain sectors and in some regions to use cryptocurrencies is gaining traction in Russia. The proposal has been included in a draft law prepared by the Economy Ministry, a high-ranking parliamentarian has voiced his support, and big business is discussing its implementation. Also read: No Reason to ‘Bury’ Cryptocurrencies, Russian PM Medvedev Says Draft Law Offers to Create Regulatory Sandboxes in Russian Regions Select entities from the IT sector and the blockchain industry may be permitted to utilize digital assets in their financial transactions, Russian media reported. The experimental regulatory regime is to be implemented in some regions of the vast country, according to a draft law put forward by the Ministry of Economic Development. The State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, supports the idea of “pilot regions” where the circulation of cryptocurrencies can be tested, the chairman of the parliamentary Financial Markets Committee, Anatoly Aksakov, told the business outlet Izvestia. Efforts to regulate the crypto space continue in several directions, he added, and the establishment of regulatory sandboxes is one of them. Aksakov further detailed: The law on the regulatory sandbox, which I hope we’ll adopt during the spring [parliamentary] session, will allow either individual companies or a given industry to use crypto instruments in their economic turnover and business operations in certain regions. The Economy Ministry said its bill is still under discussion. The potential regions and corporate entities for the program have not been determined yet but according to its representatives, businesses working with cross-cutting information technologies will be eligible to participate. This includes not only blockchain firms but also businesses developing quantum technologies and artificial intelligence products. Local authorities and companies based in the Russian regions of Kaliningrad Oblast and the Republic of Tatarstan have already expressed a desire to be part of the implementation of the proposed regulatory regime. Other regions such as Primorsky Krai, Omsk Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast, Saint Petersburg, the capital Moscow, and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea are also potential candidates. Businesses Affected by Sanctions May Use Cryptocurrencies Major Russian companies are currently discussing the proposal within the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). The leading industry organization has already created a special advisory board…

South Korean Exchange Loses $5 Million in Accidental Bitcoin Airdrop

South Korean Exchange Loses $5 Million in Accidental Bitcoin Airdrop

South Korean crypto exchange Coinnest is looking to take back cryptocurrencies accidentally sent to clients in an airdrop. The exchange announced last week that some 6 billion Korean won (around $5.3 million) in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were sent to customers due to a computer error, according to CoinDesk Korea. The exchange was trying to airdrop We Game Tokens (WGT) when the incident occurred. Further, due to the server issue, some customers also received Korean won from the exchange. The exchange has no plans to compensate users for any losses suffered through its server issues. Coinnest’s server issues were resolved by Jan. 19, and the company plans to roll back transactions to restore its assets. It has also asked customers to return funds they received by mistake. As of Jan. 19, about half of the won was returned. Some traders who received bitcoin instead of WGT reportedly sold their new holdings immediately, causing bitcoin’s price to flash-crash to $50. Coinnest has found itself embroiled in controversy before. Last year, CEO Kim Ik-hwan was reportedly detained by South Korean police on concerns that he was embezzling funds from the exchange. Prosecutors had already raided the exchange, though it is unclear if any confirmation of embezzlement was found. South Korean won image via Shutterstock

Peer-to-Peer Trading Platform Bitquick Implements Bitcoin Cash Support

Peer-to-Peer Trading Platform Bitquick Implements Bitcoin Cash Support

News Over-the-counter marketplace Bitquick has announced the company is now supporting multiple cryptocurrencies and has officially added bitcoin cash (BCH) to the platform. Now cryptocurrency users can purchase BCH in as little three hours as traders buy and sell coins in a peer-to-peer fashion. Also Read: Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry Bitquick Exchange Adds BCH Support Bitcoin cash fans were pleased to hear the marketplace Bitquick.co has integrated BCH support into the over-the-counter (OTC) marketplace. Bitquick was established in August of 2013 and is now owned and operated by the cryptocurrency ATM network Athena Bitcoin. Bitquick also made headlines in 2014 by being the first cryptocurrency marketplace to provide proof of reserves after the Mt. Gox scandal. The application is comparable to the peer-to-peer platform Localbitcoins as it allows buying and selling of bitcoin core (BTC) and now BCH by following a few straightforward steps. Bitquick has been used by traders to convert both digital assets to fiat or fiat to crypto in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Russia, and Australia. The company also operated an OTC cryptocurrency operation called Altquick.co but closed the business three years ago.   “We’re glad to announce that we are now supporting multiple cryptos again; please welcome bitcoin cash to the platform,” Bitquick explained in its blog post this week. In order to buy BCH using the platform, simply select which cryptocurrency you want to purchase via the quick buy form. Alternatively, browse the filters on the buy page to find available BCH offers on Bitquick. The company references the price from the Bitcoin Average data site and charges an additional 3 percent fee for BCH buys, which is included in the BTC/BCH exchange. Bitquick has detailed the buying process is no different to the traditional method, except users need to provide a receiving BCH address. After reserving a BCH purchase, the buyer then proceeds to make the payment and needs to provide proof of payment from the financial institution or a receipt photo. As soon as the payment confirmation is verified, users receive the BCH within three hours or less, although Bitquick payments made with Moneygram or Western Union can take up to 24 hours. Multi-Signature Escrow and Less Regulation Bitquick is considered ‘relatively decentralized’ as it offers…

Swiss Bank Falcon Launches Crypto Wallet With Withdrawals to Fiat

Swiss Bank Falcon Launches Crypto Wallet With Withdrawals to Fiat

Switzerland-based Falcon Private Bank has introduced support for direct transfers and storage of select cryptocurrencies, according to an official press release published on Jan. 21. The bank announced that both private and institutional investors can now directly transfer a selection of major cryptocurrencies to and from the institution’s own “segregated Falcon wallets,” as well as convert crypto into fiat money. To start, Falcon reportedly only supports four major cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC), the press release notes. With the recent move, Falcon claims its has made blockchain assets “fully bankable,” with the select cryptos being included in the bank’s portfolio statements, as well as in tax reporting documents. In the press release, the private bank also mentions its “proprietary custody solution” that it claims to provide secure storage of digital assets. Falcon’s custodial service has been audited and examined by third-party providers, the company stated. The bank also states that its crypto service is compliant with local Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer regulations. Falcon Private Bank was first authorized to manage blockchain-based assets in July 2017, following approval from the Swiss Financial Supervisory Authority (FINMA). Recently, major Swiss private investment bank Vontobel launched a crypto custodial service targeting banking institutions and asset managers. In late December, FINMA published guidelines for their fintech license, with blockchain assets-related companies reportedly set to begin applying for the license starting from 2019.

Wyoming Bill Would Clear the Way for Crypto Custody at Banks

Wyoming Bill Would Clear the Way for Crypto Custody at Banks

Wyoming may soon become the first state in the U.S. to provide clear banking permissions for cryptocurrencies and digital assets. A bipartisan group of state legislators introduced SF0125 to the government on Friday, which, if passed, would classify digital assets as property within existing laws. It would also establish “an opt-in framework for banks to provide custodial services for digital asset property as directed custodians,” determine standards for such services, clarify how Wyoming courts might classify digital assets and more. Caitlin Long, co-founder of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, told CoinDesk that the bill is a major step forward for the state, and could prove a boon for crypto startups and users alike. “A lot of companies are setting up as New York trust companies … the [Wyoming proposal] is a much better license than a New York Trust license because it’s [aimed at banks] and it’s in a state that has clarified the legal status of digital assets. Those two things are equally important,” she said. “There isn’t another state that’s providing that clarity.” One of the most notable aspects of the bill is the support it has upon its introduction. The leadership of both Wyoming’s House and Senate are cosponsoring the bill, which includes members from both the Democratic and Republican parties. On the list of sponsors are senators Drew Perkins (R.), president of the Senate, Vice President of the Senate Ogden Driskill (R.) and Senate minority leader Chris Rothfuss (D.). Also on board are representatives Steve Harshman (R.), Speaker of the House, and House Majority Whip Tyler Lindholm (R.), alongside a handful of other representatives and senators. That being said, getting the bill introduced is just the first step. “This [bill] was just released, it still has to go through everything,” Long noted. “Anything can happen in a legislative process, it’s not done till the governor signs the bill, but it has a lot of momentum behind it and a lot of support.” She continued to say that just getting the bill to this point was a “labor of love,” adding: “It truly gives the blockchain industry something I think it needs, which is legal clarity to bring it to the next level, and even the bitcoin purists who would be opposed to intermediate [entities]…