The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has launched legal action against Binance, alleging the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange breached local regulation and encouraged the illegal flow of money. The CFTC’s complaint also names Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, and chief compliance officer Samuel Lim, and accuses them of “actively facilitated violations of US law”.
Binance has never registered with the CFTC for the purpose of derivatives trading, the complaint says. The CFTC alleges Binance instructed its US-based customers to circumvent compliance controls by using virtual private networks (VPNs) to hide their location.
Binance allowed US customers to use its services without following “know your customer” (KYC) regulations - they were instead permitted to open new shell companies to evade compliance controls. Despite a lack of registration with the CFTC, the company failed to prevent US customers from accessing its platform, the complaint adds.
Binance is also accused of failing to provide an adequate anti-money laundering (AML) programme to prevent terrorist or other criminal activity. The complaint alleges Binance’s employees and senior management were aware the company facilitated the movement of money for criminal or terrorist organisations.
According to the CFTC claim, Binance has also been trading using its own platform via roughly 300 “house accounts”, some of which may be owned by Zhao. It accuses Binance of avoiding scrutiny of these accounts for evidence of insider trading. Zhao hit back at the allegations and stated that Binance does not manipulate the market for profit under any circumstances.
Zhao responded to the CFTC claim by criticising its “an incomplete recitation of facts” and that the company “has developed best-in-class technology to ensure compliance” and blocks US users using a range of different methods. Zhao also stated that Binance holds “the highest number of licences/registrations globally”.
Gisele Bündchen on Life After Tom Brady and Finding Her ‘Pura Vida’ in Costa Rica
Gisele Bündchen is not concerned about a little robin’s poo-poo stained cushion. In fact, she wants to save the bird and drip water into its beak from an incense holder turned bird feeder. Bündchen regularly communicates with nature and cherishes Costa Rica’s sounds and animals, surrounding her hideaway.
After finalizing her divorce with former NFL quarterback, Tom Brady, after a long and productive union, media surrounded their careers. Bündchen scaled back her modeling career to support her husband, and both became business partners for extracurricular ventures. Unfortunately, an investment in Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange ultimately failed, leading to upset for Bündchen. However, they have vouched to be amicable co-parents and remain grateful for their time together.
Bündchen’s model earnings surpassed Brady’s NFL contract while she scaled back her career to prioritize her family with Brady. Though her living style transitioned from Boston to Florida, she never let go of herself entirely. She regrets people’s erroneous beliefs about her being against football and states there is much more to the unraveling of a 13-year marriage. Bündchen and Brady desired different lifestyles after starting their relationship; now, they have found separations necessary to live the life they want.
Bündchen has a dream to lead the simple life in Costa Rica and raise her kids there. Though the family will reside in Miami, Bündchen wants to spend as much time in Costa Rica as she can. She has a group of friends and neighbors she calls her “village” and often creates gluten-free pizzas with them. Bündchen partakes in some of her favorite outdoor leisure activities, like horseback riding, pickleball, and spending time at the beach with her kids.
Bündchen admits to her complicated start with Brady’s ex-partner, but as the years passed, the women learned to get along. Bündchen believes no situation is worth fighting over, leading to an enriching experience. Bündchen, Benny (son), and Vivi (daughter) still cheered for Brady in his last game ever at a wild card round in the NFC playoffs. The trio has committed themselves to Brazilian jujitsu and practice under the teachings of Pedro, Gui, and Joaquim Valente, who reinforce a mind-body-spirit ethos.
Three days before Christmas 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Ripple, a company based in San Francisco that provides the infrastructure for cross-border payments, and two of its executives with conducting a $1.3 billion unregistered securities offering by selling a cryptocurrency, XRP. The same day, Ripple announced it would “fight.”
In bringing the charges, the SEC has staked a claim to jurisdiction over cryptocurrency. At the center of the suit is the question over whether XRP, the crypto token on which Ripple’s services are based, should be classified as a security—a tradable financial instrument like a bond or derivative—or something else entirely.
That, says defense lawyer John Deaton, who supplied expert testimony on the case on behalf of holders of XRP, would be “very bad news” for crypto businesses.
In the absence of legislation that makes clear the classification of crypto assets in the US, the question of whether they should be treated as securities has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis through the application of the Howey test. Under the test, an investment contract (in this context, a security) is defined as “an investment of money, in a common enterprise, with a reasonable expectation of profits, to be derived from the efforts of others.”
Although Ripple is not itself the issuer of XRP, which sits atop the open source XRP Ledger, some of its executives were part of the group that developed the token. The firm had also received a donation of 80 billion XRP in the early 2010s (worth around $30 billion at present) to develop use cases—some of which it sold off.
Ripple is challenging the SEC’s analysis on two fronts: It is arguing that its sale of XRP does not qualify as an investment contract because no contracts were signed when the transactions took place, and separately, that XRP does not satisfy the prongs of the Howey test.
However, the SEC has long said that the majority of cryptocurrencies are securities, because people invest with the goal of turning a profit and, although tokens sit atop decentralized blockchain networks, many projects are in practice sufficiently centralized to meet the definition of a common enterprise.
The SEC declined to comment for this article.
Speaking at a conference in September, SEC chair Gary Gensler called on crypto businesses to register with the agency. “Given that many crypto tokens are securities, it follows that many crypto intermediaries are transacting in securities and have to register with the SEC in some capacity,” he said.
However, US government bodies have disputed the SEC’s right to regulate crypto. In a lawsuit filed on March 9 against crypto exchange KuCoin, New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged that ether (the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network), among other crypto assets, should be treated as a security. But the Commodities and Future Trading Commission (CFTC), another US financial regulator, contends that ether is a commodity and should therefore come under its purview.
The SEC has been pushing the crypto industry hard over the past four months following the implosion of crypto exchange FTX in November, which took hundreds of millions of dollars in customer funds down with it. Since then, the SEC has launched a series of quickfire actions against crypto businesses serving the US market.
In January, the regulator charged crypto exchange Gemini and crypto lender Genesis Global Capital over a service that allowed US customers to earn interest on their assets, which the agency alleged was an unregistered securities offering. In a Twitter thread, Gemini cofounder Tyler Winklevoss called the charges “a manufactured parking ticket” and announced that “we look forward to defending ourselves,” but neither the company nor Genesis responded to a request for comment.
This was followed in February by a settlement with another exchange, Kraken, which agreed to halt its crypto staking service in the US, and a threat to sue crypto firm Paxos over its BUSD stablecoin. In both instances, the SEC again claimed the parties were in breach of securities laws. In a statement, Paxos wrote that it “categorically disagrees with the SEC.”
If the SEC were to win, it would be handed the advantage in its “turf war” with the CFTC, Filan says. The crypto industry will not escape supervision in either scenario, but the CFTC is seen by the exchanges (including FTX) as a soft touch by comparison.
If the SEC is established as crypto's main regulator, companies may need to register their US-facing services with the agency. But many crypto firms have had a “hall pass” to operate in gray areas, says securities attorney Aaron Kaplan. An SEC victory would mean they have to disentangle their various business lines to meet regulatory requirements.
“This would be very difficult for many crypto companies to accomplish,” Kaplan says. “As such, [they] could choose to move and operate outside the US … Those that don’t will need to evolve and come into compliance—or die.”
As a consequence of the lawsuit, Alderoty says, Ripple has been forced to pull back on efforts to expand in the US and focus instead on other territories, like Singapore. Since the charges were brought, the firm has chosen to operate practically “as if the SEC has won,” to ensure the business remains viable no matter the outcome. If Ripple wins the case, it will be able to lean back into the US.
Crypto markets are likely to react to the judgment when it comes, as traders price in either a renewed clarity over the legality of crypto services provided in the US, or the prospect of further enforcement action.
“We know the crypto market will quickly incorporate the verdict, and token prices will almost certainly be affected,” says Katherine Snow, director of legal at crypto research firm Messari.
Nobody knows precisely when the verdict will land; it could be days, weeks, or even months. Until then, the crypto industry must wait, because “anybody trying to predict the outcome,” Filan says, “is either going to be lucky or wrong.”
On Tuesday, GameStop announced its first profitable quarter in two years, closing its 2021 financial year successfully, despite inventory shortages and cash flow issues. As a result, shares of the company jumped by more than 45% in after-hours trading, reigniting investors' confidence in the game retailer. The company's net sales dipped slightly from $2.25 billion to $2.23 billion this quarter, but it still managed to post a profit of $48.2 million, turning around last year's loss of $147.5 million.
To return to profitability, GameStop has focused on cutting its costs. General, administrative, and selling expenses dropped from $538.9 million in Q4 2020 to $453.4 million this year, accounting for 20.4% of the company's earnings. CEO Matt Furlong announced that the company plans to cut excess costs in the European market, which includes pulling out of certain countries. GameStop is also contemplating investing in higher-margin categories, like toys, to bolster its business further.
GameStop's meme-stock momentum trended positively in the short term, but that has since normalized. The gaming retailer experienced its fair share of supply chain issues that resulted in a high backlog of inventory. However, the company has been steadily cleaning up its cost structure and inventory levels. As a result, its stock, which went from a 52-week high of almost $50, is trading at around $18 today.
As the gaming industry shifts towards the online market, GameStop has been working to revamp its real estate portfolio and grow its online presence. The gaming retailer's collectibles category has seen increased revenues, and it is banking on this category for long-term growth. Additionally, in an attempt to stabilize its cash balance, GameStop has been exploring different business streams, like NFTs and digital marketplaces.
On an investor call, Furlong emphasized that the company's position today was better than what some speculated at the start of last year. Its revamp strategy has been effective even though there have been a few missteps, like the now-defunct partnership with crypto exchange FTX. The launch of the NFT marketplace has seen fluctuations that may take longer to level out. Nevertheless, the company remains optimistic about its long-term future and is pleased with the progress it has made.
Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, said on Tuesday that it planned to lay off about 10,000 employees, or roughly 13 percent of its work force, the latest move to hew to what the company’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has called a “year of efficiency.”
The layoffs will affect Meta’s recruiting team this week, with a restructuring of its tech and business groups to come in April and May, Mr. Zuckerberg said in a memo posted on the company’s website. The announcement is the company’s second round of cuts within the past half year. In November, Meta laid off more than 11,000 people, or about 13 percent of its work force at the time. Meta also plans to close about 5,000 job postings that have yet to be filled, Mr. Zuckerberg said in the memo. Other restructuring efforts include a plan to wrap up this summer an analysis of Meta’s hybrid return-to-office model, which it began testing last March.
“This will be tough and there’s no way around that,” he wrote. Meta’s stock rose more than 7 percent by the close of trading on Tuesday. Yet, Meta is grappling not only with a digital advertising slowdown but also with Apple’s privacy changes to its mobile operating system, which have restricted Meta’s ability to collect data on iPhone users to help target ads. It also faces steep competition from TikTok, which has soared in popularity over the past few years. And regulators have stepped up efforts to rein in the company by pushing for new laws that would limit Meta’s data collection abilities.
Mr. Zuckerberg is culling employees after years of hiring at a breakneck pace. His company gobbled up workers as its family of apps, which also includes WhatsApp, became popular worldwide. The coronavirus pandemic also supercharged the use of mobile apps, leading to more growth. At its peak last year, Meta had 87,000 full-time employees. But as the global economy soured, and digital advertising markets contracted last year, Mr. Zuckerberg began putting an end to unchecked growth. Meta trimmed employee perks. And after the layoffs in November, which largely affected the business divisions and recruiting teams, Mr. Zuckerberg hinted at further cuts.
Employees have been bracing for more layoffs for months, watching with anxiety as Mr. Zuckerberg embarked on a quest to dial back what he felt was no longer necessary to run the company, according to current and former employees. But the expectation was that he would take a light touch to his favored project of the metaverse.
Some Meta employees who were affected by Tuesday’s announcement of layoffs — especially in the recruiting division — felt “gut-punched,” according to current and former employees who have spoken with those in the organization.
“People are entering a job market that is the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Erin Sumner, a global director of human resources at DeleteMe, who was laid off from Facebook in November. She said the staggered nature of Meta’s cuts over the next two months was adding to employee anxiety.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Ms. Sumner said. “There’s a lot of anger, and there’s the question many folks are asking: ‘How do you expect me to do work for the next two months while wondering if I will still have a job?’”
Meta is also in the midst of a tricky transition to become a “metaverse” company, connecting people to an immersive digital world through virtual-reality headsets and applications. Mr. Zuckerberg sees the metaverse as the next-generation computing platform, so Meta has been spending billions of dollars on the effort and reallocating workers to its Reality Labs division, which is focused on products for the metaverse. Yet it’s unclear if people will want to use metaverse products. In recent months, the public has instead gravitated to chatbots, which are built on artificial intelligence. Meta has invested in A.I. for years but lately has not been at the center of the conversation about the technology.
In his announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg laid out a vision for streamlining the company by removing layers of management, ending lower-priority projects and rebalancing product teams with a focus on engineering. To that end, Mr. Zuckerberg wound down efforts on building NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, a cryptocurrency-based initiative that has dropped out of favor in recent months. Many of Mr. Zuckerberg’s crypto initiatives in general have fallen by the wayside over the past nine months as the public has grown more skeptical of the market after the implosion of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange.
In his note, Mr. Zuckerberg added that the moves were a response to global conditions, including increased regulation, geopolitical instability, higher interest rates and a cooling economy.
Bitcoin jumped on Tuesday to levels not seen since last summer, extending its Monday rally as investors weighed the latest inflation data. Bitcoin rose about 7% to $26,015.17, according to Coin Metrics. Chart analysts had been eyeing $25,200 as a key level to watch. Ether added 5% to trade at $1,768.26.
Bitcoin is now up about 28.5% since Friday, when regulators shut down Silicon Valley Bank, and 59% for 2023. Ether has gained 20% since Friday and 45% year-to-date. Cryptocurrency prices have recovered dramatically since late last week, with market sentiment flipping 180 degrees after U.S. regulators backstopped the depositors of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. This led some investors to speculate that the Fed would be less aggressive in raising interest rates.
The jump coincided with the latest consumer price index reading, which showed an increase of 0.4% in February from January, matching the consensus estimate of economists polled by Dow Jones. So-called core CPI, which removes volatile food and energy prices, showed a monthly increase slightly above economists' expectations, and a year-over-year change in line with expectations.
"CPI data today is in-line with consensus. Together with the banking crisis, the market believes that the Fed will pause rated earlier than before and the terminal rate will be lower than previously thought," said Owen Lau, an analyst at Oppenheimer. "The likelihood of a rate cut this year has also increased."
Bitcoin's correlation with the Nasdaq is at its lowest level since the early November collapse of FTX, according to crypto data provider Kaiko. Its price is still largely driven by macro data and some analysts expect to see a bigger return to that correlation, even with idiosyncratic events driving much of the action in 2023.
Tatiana Koffman is an angel investor, author and creator of the weekly newsletter MythOfMoney.com.
The failure of Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate Bank and Signature Bank continue to ripple through the markets, causing U.S. bank stocks to plummet. Most recently, Charles Schwab's stock was halted in trading Monday morning. Meanwhile, bitcoin and the rest of the cryptocurrency market are experiencing a double-digit rally, which may be the first time that bitcoin is rallying in a risk-off environment. Perhaps this is exactly the moment bitcoin was built for.
The Bitcoin network was created as a direct response to the Great Financial Crisis in 2008, during a period when many hardworking people felt both the government and the financial system were working against them. In fact, the very first block of Bitcoin had an inscription in the code: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on the brink of the second bailout for banks."
Now that regulators are gearing up to backstop another centralized financial institution, which collapsed in part due to an aggressive monetary policy at the Federal Reserve and what appears to be either poor risk management or greed, it’s important to heed Satoshi Nakamoto’s message.
For years I’ve been talking about the “Great Reset”, a concept that advocates for us to stop trusting centralized institutions with the things that matter most. After all, these institutions are run by people who are not necessarily better or smarter than us but they make all the decisions and mistakes for us.
If we look at the sequence of events over the last week, we quickly begin to recognize the errors of human centralization. Last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Powell outlined a new approach to the Federal Reserve's policy path, indicating that interest rates may continue to rise for a longer period than previously expected. The expectation of higher interest rates for a prolonged period of time almost immediately sent a ripple effect through the bond market, causing bond prices to drop drastically because prices move opposite to yields.
At the same time, Silicon Valley Bank was forced to sell some of the 10-year bonds on its balance sheet at a 20%-30% discount to meet obligations amid a period of climbing withdrawals. As rumors of a cash shortfall began to circulate, a full-on run on the bank ensued and regulators took over. This caused even further panic.
Could every regional bank go under? After all, according to fractional banking rules, most of these banks only hold only 5%-10% of your capital in reserves, making every bank vulnerable to a bank run.
And then there was the obvious question as to who led the risk management department that decided it was okay to buy 10-year securities for an institution that has daily cash flow obligations to their depositors.
When the current economic slowdown began last year, many were worried crypto failures, such as those at FTX, Three Arrows Capital and Terraform Labs, would spread to traditional finance. But the exact opposite happened because the Silicon Valley Bank failure directly impacted the stablecoin market.
USDC, the second-largest U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin after USDT, is run by Circle. Circle's model is simple – it takes your money and gives you a digital coupon called USDC. Then it takes your money and invests in super-liquid three-month U.S. Treasury bonds (currently yielding 4.87%). What could be safer?
Well, Circle reasonably decided that it should still keep some cash on hand and spread it across six different banking partners, one of them being Silicon Valley Bank. As SVB began to go under, Circle announced it had $3.3 billion deposited with SVB, creating a hole of over 5% in its balance sheet.
Panic ensued as USDC lost its dollar peg and dropped below 87 cents on Saturday. Traders quickly switched to tether, the largest USD stablecoin, although questions have been raised about its issuer’s business practices and reserves. I personally chose to move a large portion of my holdings into bitcoin, apparently like many.
The depegging of USDC is significant because Circle, considered a highly regulated and secure business, was poised to go public as a separate entity. The incident provided a wakeup call to investors, demonstrating that "not your keys, not your coins" applies not only to banks but to all centralized entities, even those that run our stablecoins.
Bitcoin's beauty lies in its ability to store value in a decentralized manner backed by math, without requiring humans to validate or support it. No one lends out 90% of your deposits to make a profit, there is no possibility of a bank run and no one gambles with your hard-earned money on bonds.
Bitcoin was made for this moment, and it seems the market agrees. The Great Reset presupposes a future where bitcoin is the most valuable asset and the ultimate measure of value. It is what we use to store our wealth, perhaps selling small pieces for stablecoins to pay our daily expenses, but nonetheless only trusting this decentralized store of value.
The concept of decentralization, however, applies to other areas as well, such as how we run our communities, allocate resources and decide what our government should or should not control. A significant shift is underway, and more people are opting out of the traditional system.
We do not know how long it will take, but the Great Reset is happening and bitcoin will be its chosen currency.
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Regulators said keeping open the 24-year-old institution, which held deposits from law firms and real estate companies, could threaten the financial system’s stability.
Signature Bank, a New York financial institution with a big real estate lending business that had recently made a play to win cryptocurrency deposits, closed its doors abruptly on Sunday, after regulators said that keeping the bank open could threaten the stability of the entire financial system.
The demise of Signature, with assets of under $100 billion, is a blow to many of the professional services firms that have come to rely on it. One of Signature’s specialties was financing the purchase of taxi medallions, which authorize holders to operate cabs.
Silicon Valley Bank, a lender to start-ups, imploded on Friday after some ill-timed financial decisions left it struggling to meet customer withdrawal requests — and just as slowing venture capital funding prompted fledging companies to tap their accounts more.
To some extent, Signature is a victim of the panic around Silicon Valley Bank, which regulators seized on Friday. Its closing underscores the challenges that face small and midsize banks, which often focus on niche lines of business and have a narrower base of customers than larger banks. That leaves them especially vulnerable to old-fashioned bank runs.
As word about Silicon Valley Bank’s troubles began to spread last week, business customers of Signature began calling the bank, asking if their deposits were safe. Many were worried that their deposits could be at risk because, like business customers of Silicon Valley, most had more than $250,000 in their accounts. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the entity that seized Silicon Valley, insures deposits only up to $250,000.
In announcing the closure of Signature on Sunday, regulators said that customers of both banks would be made whole regardless of how much they held in their accounts.
“Many depositors at these banks are small businesses, including those driving the innovation economy, and their success is key to New York’s robust economy,” Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York said in a statement.
Its clients had included some individuals associated with the Trump Organization, former President Donald J. Trump’s company. The bank lent money to Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and to Mr. Kushner’s father, Charles. It also helped finance Mr. Trump’s Florida golf course.
The bank also said its digital asset-related client deposits stood at $16.52 billion. Signature was one of the few financial institutions that had opened its doors to taking deposits of crypto assets, a business it entered into in 2018.
That ended up being a fateful decision because the bottom fell out of crypto assets after the collapse of FTX and an ensuing criminal investigation. Another cryptocurrency-focused bank, Silvergate Bank, was forced to voluntarily close last week.
“This story has more to do with crypto, huge error in judgment by veteran bankers,” said Christopher Whalen of Whalen Global Advisors, which specializes in analyzing and consulting on financial institutions. “Result was the same in a deposit run.”
Christine Zhang contributed reporting.
The U.S. cryptocurrency firm Circle's USD Coin lost its dollar peg and fell to a record low Saturday morning after the company revealed it has nearly 8% of its $40 billion in reserves tied up at the collapsed lender Silicon Valley Bank.
USDC is known as a stablecoin, which means the value of the virtual currency is supposed to be pegged to a reference currency. USDC is designed to trade at $1, but it fell below 87 cents on Saturday, according to data from CoinDesk.
Regulators shuttered SVB Friday and seized its deposits in what has become the largest U.S. banking failure since the 2008 financial crisis. The company's spectacular implosion began late Wednesday when it surprised investors with news that it needed to raise $2.25 billion to shore up its balance sheet. What followed was the rapid collapse of a highly-respected bank that had grown alongside its technology clients.
In a tweet Friday, Circle said it has $3.3 billion in remaining reserves at SVB. The company called for the continuity of the bank and said it will follow guidance from regulators.
The cryptocurrency industry is still picking up the pieces after the sudden collapse of FTX last year, and USDC's break with the dollar could signal more trouble ahead. Stablecoins, like banks, are vulnerable to runs.
SVB customers withdrew a staggering $42 billion of deposits by the end of Thursday, according to a California regulatory filing. By the close of business that day, SVB had a negative cash balance of $958 million, according to the filing, and failed to scrounge enough collateral from other sources. If USDC holders get spooked or worry that there is not enough money in reserve, they could also rush to sell or exchange their coins.
Circle did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Credit: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/11/stablecoin-usdc-breaks-dollar-peg-after-firm-reveals-it-has-3point3-billion-in-svb-exposure.html
Fifteen local start-up companies in Australia, covering various sectors including AI and payments, have revealed that they have withdrawn some or all of their money from Silicon Valley Bank. The bank recently raised $1.8 billion to help repair losses it incurred after liquidating $21 billion in safe assets.
Several major Australian banks saw investors withdraw funds from them after the news was released, and the broader market fell 2.3% to its lowest point since September.
Venture capital firms, including Blackbird Ventures, Square Peg, and AirTree, issued statements on Friday to calm start-up founders who were concerned about the bank's financial situation.
Despite the firms' words, however, some founders remained cautious about when they would receive funding next.