Welcome to Around the Blockchain, Huobi Learn’s daily rundown of the crypto markets.
District of Columbia chief judge Beryl Howell has ordered that Ilya Lichtenstein, one half of the couple accused of laundering the proceeds of a 2016 Bitfinex hack, remain in custody pending trial. Lichtenstein’s wife, Heather Morgan, could be released on bail under strict conditions. This ruling overturns an earlier order by a New York magistrate judge to allow the couple to be released on bond. In agreement with prosecutors, Howell believes they have both the motive and means to flee the US, and told their lawyer Samson Enzer he “totally disagreed” with the defense’s characterization of the evidence as “flimsy”.
The UK’s HM Revenue & Customs has made its first NFT seizure and arrested three people in a VAT repayment fraud case reportedly involving 250 fake companies. The seizure consisted of three NFTs, as well as crypto worth around $6,781.50, and the companies involved in the case have been accused of defrauding public coffers of $1.9 million. The suspects had allegedly tried to claim back more VAT than they were owed using “sophisticated methods” to hide their identities, including stolen IDs, fake addresses, unregistered pre-paid mobile phones, VPNs and forged invoices.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has invoked the Emergencies Act, allowing him to freeze Freedom Convoy protesters’ bank accounts and monitor “large and suspicious transactions”, including crypto. Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland said this move had widened the scope of terrorist financing rules to “cover all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies”. Protestors had raised over $19 million via GiveSendGo and GoFundMe but had those funds blocked from reaching the convoy, leading some to use BTC to raise more funds. The HonkHonk Hodl group, for instance, raised 22 BTC (worth almost $1 million) through the Tallycoin BTC fundraising platform, and expect to distribute these funds to protestors. Incidentally, BTC prices rose 2.6% over the last few hours to $43,667.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor T. Rabi Sankar has compared crypto to Ponzi schemes, saying a crypto ban would be the “the most advisable choice” for India. He said cryptocurrencies were “not possible to regulate” as they were “not currencies, financial assets, real assets or even digital assets”. He added that regulation of crypto would condone its use and was “bound to have a destabilizing effect on the monetary and fiscal stability of a country”. He further dismissed crypto’s value by saying that “unlike the value of Rupee, which is anchored by monetary policy and its status as legal tender, the value of crypto assets rests solely on the expectation that others will also value and use them”.
US crypto exchange Coinbase Global (COIN) will hire up to 2,000 people this year as it explores opportunities in Web3 and other areas. Chief People Officer LJ Brock wrote in a blog post that as the industry was “in its infancy…building on-ramps for individuals to participate is critical to driving the next-generation use case of crypto. Coinbase also plans to introduce more products to increase its offerings in hosting general content, including NFTs and the Coinbase Wallet.
Show me the money
According to data from Huobi Global, BTC managed to rise from around 42,000 last night to its current location near 43,400. Similarly, ETH broke through 3,000 in the morning to its current location near 3,020. Daily charts for both are showing signs of an upward trend. Contracts-wise, Huobi Futures data showed stable open interest (OI) for both BTC and ETH, with a slight increase in volume for BTC and a significant increase in volume for ETH.