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SEC’s ‘one-dimensional’ approach is slowing Bitcoin progress: Grayscale CEO



The approach to crypto regulatory enforcement by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stalled the advancement of Bitcoin (BTC) in the country, according to the CEO of Grayscale Investments.

In a letter published in The Wall Street Journal on Jan. 23, the chief of the cryptocurrency asset management firm, Michael Sonnenshein, said he agreed with an assertion that the SEC was “late to the game” regarding crypto regulation and preventing the bankruptcy of FTX, adding:

“‘Late’ doesn’t capture what transpired here. The problem is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s one-dimensional approach of regulation by enforcement.”

Grayscale is currently suiting the SEC for denying the conversion of its Bitcoin trust to a spot-based Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).

He clarified the SEC “should certainly try to eliminate bad actors” but it shouldn’t hinder “efforts to develop appropriate regulation.”

The inaction by the regulator to stop such bad actors from entering the crypto industry “prevented Bitcoin’s advancement into the U.S. regulatory perimeter,” Sonnenshein wrote.

This has forced American investors to use offshore crypto businesses “with less protection and oversight,” he said.

“We are seeing the consequences of the SEC’s priorities play out in real-time — at the expense of U.S. investors.”

Cointelegraph has reached out to the Securities and Exchange Commission for comment.  

Sonnenshein’s opinion piece comes as Grayscale is suing the SEC for having “arbitrarily denied” Grayscale’s plans to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) to a spot ETF.

The SEC argued that Grayscale’s proposal did not sufficiently protect against fraud and manipulation. Grayscale countered by saying that the SEC was arbitrarily treating spot-traded products differently from futures-traded products.

Grayscale is owned by the crypto conglomerate Digital Currency Group (DCG), which is currently undergoing financial difficulties.

DCG also owns the bankrupt Genesis Trading, which was charged by the SEC on Jan. 12 for allegedly selling unregistered securities.

Related: SEC leaked crypto miners’ personal information during investigation: Report

Over the weekend, John Reed Stark, a crypto skeptic and former SEC chief, lambasted the term “regulation by enforcement,” labeling it a “Bogus Big Crypto Catch Phrase.”

In a Jan. 22 post on Linkedin, he said the term was a “misguided, deflective effort designed to tap into sympathetic libertarian and anti-regulatory mores,” and called it “utter nonsense.”

He argued that “litigation and SEC enforcement are actually how securities regulation works.”

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FBI seizes $100K in NFTs from scammer following ZachXBT investigation



FBI seizes $100K in NFTs from scammer following ZachXBT investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has seized two non-fungible tokens (NFTs) worth more than $100,000 and 86.5 Ether (ETH) from a reported phishing scammer.

The alleged scammer in question, Chase Senecal — known as Horror (HZ) online — was initially exposed via a lengthy investigation by independent blockchain sleuth ZachXBT posted back in September.

In the FBI’s official notification posted on Feb. 3, it outlined that Seneca’s property — which also included an Audemars Piguet (AP) Royal Oak Watch worth $41,000 — was “seized for federal forfeiture for violation of federal law.”

The FBI’s notification did not detail much other information on the ordeal apart from noting that all of the property was seized on Oct. 24. The specific NFTs include Bored Ape Yacht Club#9658, and Doodle #3114 and were valued at $95,495 and $9,361 at the time of seizure.

The 86.5 ETH was valued at $116,433 at the time of seizure, but is now worth $144,000 at the time of writing.

It is unclear what the full scope of legal proceedings that have taken place against Senecal are at this stage. However, according to the FBI’s law enforcement bulletin, federal forfeiture is a law enforcement tool that enables the government to “remove—without compensation for the individual—ownership of property involved in a crime.”

“It may occur in a civil procedure, like a lawsuit against the item, or after the conviction of an individual in a criminal trial,” the FBI states.

While the FBI has not come out with an official tip of the hat to ZachXBT, the on-chain sleuth noted via Twitter on Feb. 3 that the property seizure did “come as a result” of his investigation.

“I look forward to hopefully seeing more phishing scammers suffer a similar fate in the future for harming so many people in this space,” ZachXBT wrote.

With the seizure of a Bored Ape NFT, people in the community have joked that the FBI will change its profile picture to Ape #9658.

Photoshopped FBI profile pic: @CryptoWithNick on Twitter

Notably, the flashy AP watch was one of the key identifiers that helped ZachXBT unmask Senecal’s identity and on-chain activity during the investigation.

Related: Logan Paul and CryptoZoo hit with lawsuit as investors take action

In a medium post from Sept. 2, ZachXBT explained that after seeing Horroz (HZ) brag about the new watch on social media, he asked “around a few mutual friends who sell watches” and eventually managed to get in contact with the person who sold that specific AP watch to Senecal.

Unfortunately for Senecal, the payment was said to have been made on the blockchain via the use of USD Coin (USDC).

“The address HZ used to pay the watch seller $47.5k was DIRECTLY funded by multiple addresses used to scam people with hacked Twitter accounts such as @deekaymotion, @Zeneca_33, @ezu_xyz, [and] @JRNYclub,” ZachXBT wrote.

This is not the first time ZachXBT’s research has played a key role in helping government authorities. In October, France’s national cyber unit cited ZachXBT’s work in helping it catch and charge a group of alleged fraudsters on suspicion of stealing $2.5 million worth of NFTs via phishing scams.

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UK Treasury publishes consultation paper for upcoming crypto regulation



The UK financial services sector wants to be a leader in crypto regulation.
The consultation paper addresses stablecoins, NFTs and ICOs.
There however won’t be a separate regulatory system for the crypto space according to the treasury.

His Majestry’s Treasury has published an extensive 80-page consultation paper for the much anticipated crypto regulation in the UK.

The paper covers a wide range of crypto topics ranging from the problems with algorithmic stablecoins to initial coin offerings (ICOs), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It contains proposals for the upcoming crypto regulations in the United Kingdom that aim to position the UK financial services sector at the forefront of crypto regulations globally.

Generally, hardline crypto control measures have been gaining momentum across the globe especially following the rate at which crypto firms and projects are collapsing taking with them billions of dollars of investors’ money. By setting up proper crypto regulation, the UK could soon become a hub for cryptocurrency projects.

No separate regulations for crypto

While publishing the consultation paper, the Treasury also announced that there shall not be a separate regulatory system for cryptocurrencies. The proposed crypto regulations will fall under UK’s Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will customize the existing FSMA’s rules to accommodate the digital assets market.

Once the crypto regulations are set into place, crypto market players will be required to register afresh despite having done that earlier under the FCA licensing regime. But contrary to the earlier regulatory regime, crypto firms will not be required to make regular market data reports although crypto exchanges will be required to keep the data and make it available anytime.

Also contrary to earlier speculations, the UK Treasury has decided not to ban algorithm stablecoins. It has instead categorized them as “unbacked crypto-assets” instead of stablecoins. As a result, crypto promotions will have to exclude the term “stable” when marketing the algorithmic stablecoins.

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US lawmakers renew request for answers from Silvergate on FTX: Report



US lawmakers renew request for answers from Silvergate on FTX: Report

Several United States senators have reportedly penned a letter requesting answers from Silvergate Capital — the parent company of Silvergate Bank — related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

According to a Jan. 31 Bloomberg report, U.S. senators including Elizabeth Warren, Roger Marshall and John Kennedy said Silvergate had not fully answered questions in response to a December letter about its alleged role in handling FTX user funds. Silvergate reportedly cited restrictions on disclosing “confidential supervisory information” — a rationale the senators said was unacceptable.

“Both Congress and the public need and deserve the information necessary to understand Silvergate’s role in FTX’s fraudulent collapse, particularly given the fact that Silvergate turned to the Federal Home Loan Bank as its lender of last resort in 2022,” said the letter, according to Bloomberg.

Warren, Marshall and Kennedy signed their names onto a 2022 letter giving Silvergate until Dec. 19 to provide lawmakers answers on its involvement in the FTX debacle. However, the senators reportedly said the firm had left out crucial information necessary to determine Silvergate’s role in FTX’s alleged fraud, including whether it mishandled transferring FTX user assets to Alameda. 

Following the liquidity crisis and bankruptcy filing of FTX in November 2022 — and prior to the arrest of former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried — Warren and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse called on the Justice Department to investigate the collapse of the crypto exchange and consider prosecuting certain individuals. The recent letter gave Silvergate until Feb. 13 to submit a response, including on the company’s due diligence practices.

Related: Silvergate sold assets at loss and cut staff to cover $8.1B in withdrawals: Report

Members of Congress have been organizing for their 118th session after Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives were unable to come to an agreement to elect the next speaker for days, delaying committee assignments and legislation. Senators and House members conducted hearings exploring the downfall of FTX in December, with leadership suggesting at the time that the investigation would continue in 2023.

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