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Senate Banking Committee chair calls for coordination with Treasury on crypto

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Sherrod Brown, chair of the United States Senate Banking Committee, has called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to work with financial regulators and lawmakers on comprehensive crypto legislation “in the wake of FTX’s implosion.”

In a Nov. 30 letter to Yellen, Brown requested the Treasury secretary coordinate with regulators to address crypto based on recommendations from the Financial Stability Oversight Committee, or FSOC. The committee chair cited crypto exchange FTX’s “alarming fraud,” liquidity crunch and bankruptcy as examples of financial risks that should not “spillover into traditional financial markets and institutions.”

“I ask that you coordinate with the other financial regulators to further work on the recommendations from the FSOC Report, including the development of legislation that would create authorities for regulators to have visibility into, and otherwise supervise, the activities of the affiliates and subsidiaries of crypto asset entities,” said Brown. “As noted in the FSOC Report, single regulatory agencies currently generally do not have a comprehensive view of crypto asset entities’ activities.”

He added:

“As the FTX failure makes clear, given crypto asset entities’ broad use of proprietary crypto tokens combined with opaque financial arrangements and the reliance on arbitrary valuation and data sources, the financial regulatory agencies should continue to find ways to enhance entity and crypto asset disclosures, market integrity, and transparency.”

In October, the FSOC released a report in accordance with U.S. President Joe Biden’s executive order on crypto, aimed at exploring potential regulatory gaps and financial stability risks of digital assets. The council recommended lawmakers pass legislation to determine which “rulemaking authority” will be responsible for regulating parts of the crypto spot market — i.e., the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. At the time, Yellen said the report provided “a strong foundation for policymakers” but did not offer a timeline for action.

Related: Senate Banking Committee Democrats warn SoFi about meeting its compliance deadline

Brown’s response was the latest from U.S. lawmakers jumping in to offer their two cents on FTX’s bankruptcy and possible regulatory and legal action. On Nov. 23, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse penned a letter to the Justice Department to potentially prosecute individuals involved in wrongdoing at FTX as well as investigate the exchange’s downfall with the “utmost scrutiny.” Committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be conducting separate hearings in December to address the collapse of the crypto exchange.



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Regulation

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

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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

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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

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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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