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Could US Law Enforcement Benefit from Storing Cryptocurrency Seizures on a Blockchain?

As cryptocurrency usage becomes more widespread both above and below the law, various authorities are increasingly required to perform seizures on funds used in criminal cases. Thanks to the various anonymity properties of digital coins, however, it’s proving difficult to track these forfeitures. This lack of transparency leaves critics of the government musing over the possibility that not all digital currency is being sold fairly and through the correct channels. If only there was some way of publicly recording details regarding funds acquired through forfeiture and their sale…

Seizures are Rife, Reports are Less So

There is no shortage of examples of government agencies seizing digital currencies. High profile cases like that of Alexandre Cazes, the ringleader behind global dark web marketplace Alpha Bay, and Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind Silk Road have involved huge sums of cryptocurrency being turned over to the government.

More recently, 513 Bitcoins were seized from a seller of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in Utah, and Fortune reports a kidnapping case in which a man was bundled into what he thought was an Uber and was forced to surrender private keys at gunpoint. Those behind the incident were able to make off with $1.8 million in ETH tokens. They promptly converted these to BTC which then soared in price. What remains unclear is who should receive all that extra cash.

There are many more examples of forfeiture involving digital currency making the total amount of seized funds incredibly difficult to work out. This is exacerbated by anonymity properties of digital coins, along with the penchant for secrecy within some of the agencies making the seizures.

A website, Forfeiture.gov, exists that documents cases of forfeiture in the States. However, their records are fleeting. They’re regularly updated and old cases are removed with the addition of new ones. In addition, there are often long periods between the seizure of assets and their appearance in any records and some sales of cryptocurrency aren’t reported at all.

It seems somewhat ironic that the very technology behind digital currency, the blockchain, could provide the transparency needed in such matters. An attorney who has worked extensively on cases of forfeiture, Alex Lakatos, feels that some form of central registry would be beneficial:

“This country is weirdly lacking in central registries… we don’t know how much property has been seized.”

Since there is no law obliging the government to provide such a ledger, one has yet to be created. It’s argued that increased transparency would likely tip criminals off to the methods used by law enforcement and thus undermine operations.

However, there are plenty who feel that this lack of transparency is completely unacceptable and promotes underhand behaviour from those working in government agencies. Clifford Histed, an attorney at K&L Gates spoke to Fortune of the historical precedent for embezzlement in cases of forfeiture:

“I’ve spent 23 years in law enforcement and, unfortunately, I believe as long as police have been seizing cash, some have been skimming it… I don’t think Bitcoin will prove any different.”

Whilst there is no hard evidence to suggest that government agents have been misappropriating funds from seizures, the ease with which it could be taking place concerns lawyers and libertarians alike. An investigation into the Marshals Service last September uncovered examples of the agency using seized funds to pay for such unnecessary luxuries as “high-end granite countertops and expensive custom artwork.” Amusingly, much of this was found at the new Asset Forfeiture Academy in Houston. Surely, with such incidents occurring and the numbers of seizures only set to grow, there should be some effort made to provide transparency to avoid allegations of corruptions.

 

 

 

The post Could US Law Enforcement Benefit from Storing Cryptocurrency Seizures on a Blockchain? appeared first on NewsBTC.

PR: Bitcoin Holders, Please Claim Your BCP and BCPC, as They Will Be on Exchanges Soon

Claim Your Bitcoin Parallel

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

The mainchain energy coin BCP and the sidechain clearance coin BCPC belongs to Bitcoin’s Parallel Ecosystem. All Bitcoin holders of BTC chain at the block height 507,000 on January 30th 2018 have the privilege to claim their BCP and BCPC coins for free from February 12th 2018.

The claiming rate started from 1 BCP and 1,000 BCPC per BTC and would decrease afterwards day by day. 24 hours after 9:00:00 GMT February 12, 2018, BCP and BCPC has entered into a phase that is reduced by 2% every 24 hours. Then after being decreased to 50%, the distribution rate will enter into the second phase, decreasing by 1% every week until it finally becomes zero. Therefore, Bitcoin holders who have not yet claim the coins please visit our official website to apply for coin claim as soon as possible, as the amount of BCP and BCPC claimable will decrease every day.

If you have difficulties in the claiming process with your BTC wallet, please pay close attention to our official social media and official website, we will issue Guidelines for Bitcoin holders to claim BCP and BCPC.

In addition, for those who have successfully received BCP & BCPC or have joined our mining groups, please keep your wallet safe. The corresponding BCPC applications will be developed on the BCP main chain around June to July 2018. BCP and BCPC is scheduled to go to exchanges in the near future and the applications will be released correspondingly.

For further information, please visit our official website: www.bitcoinparallel.org

Bitcoin Parallel Foundation

Contact Email Address
foundation@bitcoinparallel.org
Supporting Link
www.bitcoinparallel.org

This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.

The post PR: Bitcoin Holders, Please Claim Your BCP and BCPC, as They Will Be on Exchanges Soon appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

With crushing debt and a starving population, the Maduro government in Venezuela is launching what it says is the world’s first sovereign cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency is designed to bypass U.S. government sanctions against the socialist regime. The “Petros” cryptocurrency will have an initial value tied to the price of a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil in mid-January, which was $60 per barrel, with a target of 100 million Petros to be sold.

The U.S. Treasury Department warned that the move may violate last year’s sanctions, while Venezuelan opposition leaders say the sale constitutes an illegal issuing of debt.

After the first day of trading, President Maduro claimed to have raised $735 million. State officials are claiming a 5x increase in traffic to the website, but some critics, including Venezuelan product designer and cryptocurrency writer Alejandro Machado, are skeptical.

In speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Machado commented that he was unable to find any transactions on the blockchain regarding Petros and, while the token was originally slated to be released on the Ethereum network, it since has transitioned to NEM.

“The government hasn’t confirmed that this is the address, but they confirmed they’re using NEM, and it’s the only mosaic matching the Petro description,” Machado said. “The mosaic’s metadata also uses similar phrasing to the white paper.”

Machado has been writing about the upcoming Petros since early December 2017, remarking, “Many think it’s yet another episode of empty propaganda, but I profoundly disagree: chavismo is facing the existential danger of running out of funds, and they’re betting heavily on the Petro.”

His skepticism about the plan runs deep: “No doubt aware of their terrible track record, the government is incentivizing participation in the private sale by offering a 60% discount. What company in the world would sell 38 million units of a product for less than half their market value? A company that doesn’t intend to ship you the product after you buy, of course.”

With $150 billion in foreign debt, quadruple-digit inflation, the collapse of their oil output, and crushing sanctions by the U.S. and the EU, the Venezuelan government has become increasingly creative in ways to generate revenue. Petros represent nothing more than a promise against the 300 million barrels of oil that Venezuela believes they can recover but have yet to pull from the ground. There is an additional problem that U.S.-based investors purchasing the Petros would be in violation of American sanctions and could find themselves in trouble with Uncle Sam.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Crypto Nodes Are One Step Closer to Legal Protection in Arizona

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill protecting blockchain node operators from local restrictions.

Venezuela’s Petro pre-sale marks world first for government crypto

The Venezuelan government began the hotly anticipated pre-sale of the Petro (PTR) cryptocurrency token yesterday, 20 February. The token is backed by the country’s crude oil reserves, which are the largest in the world.

The Petro is the first cryptocurrency created by a government and, as such, developments are being followed closely, in particular by states such as Russia, which is facing US sanctions and also has a large oil industry.

In a tweet today President Nicolas Maduro said the Petro had raised $735 in its first day on sale.

A Buyer’s Manual has been published by the government explaining how the Petro can be bought and stored in the wallet that has been developed for the token. Strong interest was expected from Turkey, Qatar, Europe and the US when the sale is opened up, according to Venezuela’s crypto regulator, Carlos Vargas.

Supply is set at 100 million, with 82.4 million tokens available in the pre-sale. Buyers can use either crypto of fiat to purchase the token. Venezuelan crypto exchanges that wish to trade PTR have to be licensed by the government.

The technical whitepaper (in Spanish) for the token has finally been published along with three other documents – one on anti-money laundering measures, a Buyer’s Manual and a document containing information on how exchanges can acquire a licence.

It is not entirely clear from the documentation which blockchain platform PTR will run on, or indeed if there is a plan to ultimately build the token’s own chain. Ethereum and NEM (short for New Economy Movement) are cited in the available documentation.

Readers will remember that it was the Xem token of the NEM platform that was stolen from Japanese exchange Coincheck earlier this month, although the hack used by the criminals was not related to any security vulnerability on the NEM blockchain or associated smart contracts. The possible use of the NEM blockchain has not led to any bump in the price of Xem and the NEM project has not as yet provided any comment on the matter.

Venezuela’s Congress considers the Petro to be illegal. The legislature is controlled by the opposition to the socialist Venezuelan government.

Maduro’s government has designated the PTR token legal tender, which means it can be used to pay taxes in the same that the country’s fiat currency the bolivar can.

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela guarantees that it will accept PETRO as a form of payment of taxes, fees, contributions and national public services, taking as a reference the price of the barrel of the Venezuelan basket of the previous day with a discount. In this way it will be guaranteed that the buyer always has a recovery value adjusted to that of his investment,” says the statement on the website of the cryptocurrency.

The bolivar is almost worthless because of the hyperinflation that has plagued the economy in recent months.

Venezuela’s government has high hopes for the cryptocurrency. “Petro will be an instrument for the creation of a freer, balanced and fair international financial system,” the website states.

However, the main aim of the oil-backed crypto is to get around the sanctions imposed by the US and other western governments. It is for this reason that the experiment being conducted by Caracas is of interest to Russia, where there is speculation that a “cryptorouble” is in the works as a way of circumventing US economic sanctions.

A private industry initiative to launch an oil-backed crypto is also soon to be launched, called OilCoin. The token’s value will be pegged to the price of a barrel of crude oil and the initial coin offering is expected to begin early this year.

 

The post Venezuela’s Petro pre-sale marks world first for government crypto appeared first on Ethereum World News.

BitQuick reintroduces its Bitcoin Compliance API

BitQuick, a US instant buying and selling Bitcoin marketplace has relaunched its Compliance API. Initially released in 2015, it allows state and federally regulated businesses to access customer data in order to remain compliant…

BitQuick reintroduces its Bitcoin Compliance API was published on CryptoNinjas.

Ethereum Price Analysis – ICOs reach record heights

Ethereum (ETH) has essentially held steady in February. The market cap now stands at US$89.55 billion, with US$1.58 billion traded on exchange over the past 24 hours. While daily traded volume is down sharply from late December and early January, the Ethereum platform continues to be adopted by an array of startups and is now being used at-large, reducing traditional banking friction, increasing payment speed, and removing intermediaries.

Long Blockchain Struggling: Nasdaq Issues Delisting Notice

Long Blockchain, the company formerly known as Long Island Iced Tea, has announced a new CEO and plans to spin off its original iced tea business. But there’s a problem: According to company’s balance sheets, it has no income or assets related to blockchain or cryptocurrency.

Long Blockchain has been attempting to rebrand itself — last year the company announced it was diversifying, shifting focus from beverages to blockchain technology — but investors aren’t buying. The company has been issued a second delisting notice from Nasdaq (the first notice being in October of last year before the company changed names) for failing to keep its market cap above $35 million. Shares were down 5% Tuesday at just over three dollars a share, giving the company a current market cap of $27.98 million.

Today, February 20th, the company announced a change in leadership. Shamyl Malik, who previously ran the firm’s blockchain efforts, has taken over as CEO, replacing Phillip Thomas:

“Shamyl has shown great initiative and leadership since joining the team, and his appointment as CEO and our planned spin-off will allow the Company to execute on a clear, focused Blockchain strategy,” Thomas said in a statement.

Obstacles:

In December the company announced its name change and diversification — which spurred a near tripling of its share price overnight. The problem is Long Blockchain’s financial documents don’t back this new direction up: According to its most recently filed balance sheet (from November) Long Blockchain currently owns no blockchain assets.

That said, the company has recently announced plans to merge with a New Zealand firm called Stater Blockchain Limited, a “technology company focused on developing and deploying globally scalable blockchain technology solutions in the financial market,” according to its website. If the buyout goes through, Stater Blockchain would become a subsidiary of Long Blockchain — meaning the company would actually gain tangible blockchain assets, which would include Stater’s in-house currency futures brokerage.

Long Blockchain’s pivot hasn’t been smooth. The company announced in January that it would spend $4.2 million to buy 1,000 cryptocurrency mining machines. It seemed to be a strange move: Mining high-risk and relatively unexciting compared to doing something like developing a cryptocurrency service or other blockchain-based venture. Less than a week after it’s announcement, Long Blockchain abandoned plans to sell stock to finance the purchase — by the end of the month it had abandoned the mining proposal entirely.

Larger trends:

Long Island Ice Tea wasn’t the first company, nor will it be the last, to try to take advantage of the media attention that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies have commanded as of late. Others, like Kodak and Atari, have diversified their platforms too, with both companies recently putting forth plans to develop their own tokens. Like Long Blockchain, these fledgling companies have been met with some skepticism from experts and industry insiders. The company’s fourth-quarter balance sheet — required of all public companies within 45 days of the quarter’s end — is now one week overdue. 

The post Long Blockchain Struggling: Nasdaq Issues Delisting Notice appeared first on NewsBTC.

Intiva Health to use Swirlds hashgraph for integrated career platform for healthcare

Swirlds, creators of the hashgraph distributed consensus platform, announced today that Intiva Health will utilize Swirlds’ hashgraph technology to build the industry’s first ‘Ready Doc’ career platform, which allows for the fastest placement and…

Intiva Health to use Swirlds hashgraph for integrated career platform for healthcare was published on CryptoNinjas.

Game Over: Anonymous Vigilante Shuts Down Crypto All Stars

Only a week. That’s how long Crypto All Stars, an ethereum-based collectable game modeled off CryptoKitties, lasted once founder in-fighting started.