News: Facebook Libra in the House and Senate, CFTC investigates BitMEX, India to ban holding cryptos, Justin Sun’s kidney stones

  • If you support my work here with just $5 a month — the cost of buying me a pint once a month — you’ll get early access to stuff like the draft of the ICO book chapter on Synthestech — and previous and future previews.


David Marcus from Facebook was subjected to several hours’ close questioning on Libra by both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. You can watch several hours’ video (Senate, House), or you can just read Ben Munster’s highlights.

The Written Testimony of Robert Weissman (President, Public Citizen) to the House is worth reading.

Facebook told the New York Times that it spent the lead-up to the Libra announcement talking to regulators, and the reaction was “neutral to positive.” It turns out that regulators were coughing up their own skulls in horror (archive) from the start.

UK MPs will be looking closely into Libra as well (archive). Damian Collins: “Facebook’s almost trying to turn itself into its own country.”

David Marcus is the public face of Facebook’s Libra — but Morgan Beller started the cryptocurrency effort in 2017, before Marcus was even at Facebook.

Libra may be a desperation move — Facebook user numbers stopped growing years ago … except for fake accounts.

There’s already a pile of fake Libra sellers online — including on Facebook itself (archive). One bozo even tried to add a spam link to the Wikipedia article on Libra. (It was removed 35 minutes later.)

Preston Byrne on Libra — he thinks Facebook’s intent is to functionally control money itself, to the same extent they control social interaction.

I try to avoid salty language on this blog, but “shitcoin” is now officially on the Congressional Record — not just from Nouriel Roubini last October, but from the mouth of Congressman Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), in the hearings on Libra. So, wherever you see me use the euphemism “minor altcoin” …



The CFTC is investigating BitMEX over whether they allowed US citizens to trade Bitcoin derivatives, and how hard they enforced their supposed rules against American customers — given it takes about three seconds to set up as a customer via VPN (“All it took was a functional email address”).

No, it wasn’t Nouriel Roubini who set the CFTC on BitMEX — despite his fiery article on them, and, as he claimed in a tweet: “Insiders at @BitMEXdotcom racket told me the internal trading group follows the order flow & bets against clients to liquidate them & profit from it. And they use ‘overloads’ to rekt u more. As if a dealer at a casino who knows your cards was allowed to bet against you to rekt u.”

Arthur Hayes denies this accusation. But I wonder if he’s regretting saying “you are welcome to bring a court case in the Seychelles.” At least he finally released the full Roubini-Hayes debate video.

Jon Montroll, the owner of crypto exchange Bitfunder, gets 14 months in jail for lying to the SEC about their 2013 hack. “The Bitfunder operator then attempted to cover it up by misappropriating their funds to hide the lost bitcoins.” The regulators are slow, but they are thorough.

Swedish crypto exchange QuickBit leaked 300,000 customer records recently via an unsecured MongoDB database — full names, addresses, email addresses, gender, and dates of birth. They were informed of the breach on 3 July. They became a publicly listed company on 11 July. They finally told the world about the breach today, 22 July.

The Coinbase Bundle was a “basket” of assorted cryptocurrencies that you could invest in as a synthetic derivative. Since crypto prices go up and down in lockstep, it was mostly terrible and embarassing. Coinbase has finally deprecated the awful thing.

Remember BTC-e, which laundered the bitcoins stolen from Mt. Gox, and which reopened in New Zealand as WEX? Dmitri Vasilev, ex-CEO of WEX, was just arrested In Italy (original) concerning BTC-e.

You’ll be unsurprised to hear that (cough) minor altcoin volume is fake.



More good news for Bitcoin from India — the Department of Economic Affairs’ Inter-Ministerial Committee on virtual currencies suggests “banning of the cryptocurrencies in India and imposing fines and penalties for carrying on of any activities connected with cryptocurrencies in India.” This includes holding cryptos. But the committee says the government should keep an “open mind on official digital currency.” And it likes “DLT.” Here’s the press release, and the full report.

The UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is looking to hire cryptocurrency specialists. Though at £36-50,000, they’re really not offering enough to get anyone in computing or banking with actual expertise — let alone anyone who knows both.

No, the email scammers claiming to be from the FCA and offering crypto investments are lying.

New Jersey accuses 2018 ICO promoter Pocketinns of running an unregistered securities sale. Remember that, as well as the SEC, you have every state regulator to contend with.

Doing crimes on a permanent immutable public ledger of all transactions remains not so smart — Silk Road drug dealer Hugh Haney, part of the vendor group Pharmville, was arrested on 18 July. Haney cashed out on an unnamed exchange — telling the exchange that he had mined the coins. Once the money was in the bank, the Feds seized it and arrested him. Haney is charged with money laundering and engaging in a financial transaction using illegally-gotten gains.

Microsoft employee Volodymyr Kvashuk stole $10 million, using a test account to embezzle gift cards. The bit of interest to us is that he tried laundering the money with a bitcoin mixer. Kvashuk is charged with mail fraud.



The lunch that Justin Sun of Tron bought with Warren Buffett has been postponed. Originally Sun announced it was due to “kidney stones” — but China appears unhappy with Sun, and a State Council special committee on the Internet has accused Sun of money laundering, illegal fundraising, spreading pornography and gambling, and suggested he be arrested. So Sun is now under border controls, and will not be allowed to leave China while the matter is unresolved. Assuming he’s in China, and not in San Francisco.

Digital music distributor 7Digital is busy going broke. So Tamir Koch from also-going-broke eMusic has joined the board — and thinks it’s a great venue for eMusic’s blockchain ambitions.

ICOx Innovations — the KodakCoin lothave a new venture: a “celebrity-sponsored sports betting platforms, just for fans” called sBetOne. The website mentions “branded Digital Wallets and Digital Currencies” down the page.

Reuters reports that Japan is working on a SWIFT-like system for cryptocurrency payments — and it’ll be fully KYC/AML-compliant. The report doesn’t make sense, and I can’t work out what the original thing it’s talking about could be. Kim Driver suggests that “Nikkei reported prior to the G20 that Japan was keen to work with FATF to up its AML procedures where it has a terrible history (org. crime). Might that have become deliberately or accidentally conflated with its problems with crypto exchanges?”

Venture capitalist investment in “blockchain” is through the floor. This accords with my experience “blockchain” was always just a proxy for the cool factor of “number go up,” and now that’s not happening, neither is this.

Anthony Pompliano’s prize-winningly dumb tweet about “digital” vs “electronic” money has made the papers! If he ever gets a Wikipedia article, this is going in.

“Bitcoin energy usage actually advances renewable energy tech—” (record scratch) Bitcoin’s being an apocalyptic death cult again.







Become a Patron!

Your subscriptions keep this site going. Sign up today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.