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Prosecutors say Sam Bankman-Fried’s arguments to dismiss cryptocurrency charges are meritless – ABC News

NEW YORK — Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyers made meritless arguments in a bid to convince a judge to toss out criminal charges alleging that the FTX founder stole from investors in his multibillion dollar cryptocurrency fund, federal prosecutors said Monday.

In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors responded to early May filings in which Bankman-Fried’s lawyers insisted that the United States overreached in its case against Bankman-Fried, making federal crimes out of regulatory issues.

“These motions are meritless,” prosecutors wrote in a nearly 100-page filing. “The charges track the relevant statutes and the defendant’s alleged misconduct falls within the heartland of what these statutes prohibit.”

Bankman-Fried, 31, has been living with his parents in Palo Alto, California, after posting a $250 million personal recognizance bond after his December extradition from the Bahamas.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to charges that he cheated investors and looted customer deposits on FTX to make lavish real estate purchases, donate money to politicians and make risky trades at Alameda Research, his cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams has called it one of the biggest frauds in U.S. history.

In March, new charges added to the indictment alleged that Bankman-Fried violated the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by directing the payment of $40 million in bribes to a Chinese official or officials to free up $1 billion in cryptocurrency that was frozen in early 2021.

In requesting all charges be dismissed, defense lawyers said eight counts in the original indictment were too vague and non-specific to proceed to trial and that additional charges were barred by an Extradition Treaty between the U.S. and the Bahamas that prohibited charges not approved at the time of extradition.

Prosecutors, though, asked Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to let all charges proceed. They said the claims against the original charges were legally sufficient and that permission is being sought from the Bahamas to permit the newest charges.

Prosecutors wrote that they expect Bankman-Fried’s lawyers to argue at trial that their client was not involved in Alameda’s day-to-day activities and was unaware that Alameda borrowed large sums from FTX to repay its lenders.

“The defendant’s spending of misappropriated funds on political donations is probative of the defendant’s motive for defrauding FTX’s customers and investors: the defendant wanted access to capital that he could use, in part, for political donations that would burnish his own image and improve the regulatory prospects of his business in the United States,” prosecutors wrote.

FTX entered bankruptcy in November when the global exchange ran out of money after the equivalent of a bank run. A trial is tentatively set for the fall.

Attorneys for Bankman-Fried did not respond late Monday to emailed requests for comment.

This content was originally published here.


Bitcoin selling for $5K cheaper on Binance Australia as fiat ramp closes

Bitcoin (BTC) is trading hands at a hefty discount on the Australian branch of the Binance crypto exchange, with the price of Bitcoin down as much as 21% if traded against the Australian dollar. 

The move comes as traders rush to cash out their crypto holdings into Australian dollars before the door for local bank withdrawals closes in a few days.

On May 18, Binance Australia informed users that it is suspending Australian dollar services after a decision by its third-party payments provider.

Deposits via bank transfer were halted immediately, while withdrawals using the PayID service are set to remain open until June 1 at 5 pm local time. The exchange has also warned its Australian clients that any Australian dollars remaining on the exchange after May 31 would be automatically converted into USDT.

The announcements have since caused a progressive rush to cash out, causing BTC prices to become heavily discounted.

At the time of publication, one BTC can be purchased for only 33,750 Australian dollars, equating to around $21,987, or 21% lower than the global spot rate.

Those hoping to capitalize on the cheaper Bitcoin may be disappointed, however.

Without the ability to deposit Australian dollars into the trading wallet and hefty premiums for converting other crypto assets into Australian dollars, users may find it difficult to get their hands on the discounted BTC.

Binance has also warned of the delisting of several crypto trading pairs with Australian dollars on June 1 and for users to “pay attention to the risks when trading.”

Meanwhile, Binance said it is continuing to look for an alternate provider to continue offering Australian dollar deposits and withdrawals. Currently, the ability to buy and sell crypto using credit or debit cards is still available, though these rates appear to be in line with the market. 

While AUD deposits by bank transfers are no longer available to Binance users in Australia, there are still several ways Aussie users can deposit onto the exchange.

– Credit or debit card
– Use P2P to buy and sell crypto
– Third Party Payment


— Binance Australia (@Binance_AUS)

Binance has been in hot water with regulators down under as its derivatives license was canceled by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission last month. It is also facing a massive investigation by the U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.

Aussie crypto broker Swyftx, which relied on Binance for its liquidity needs, h previously stated that the severing of Binance’s Australian dollar on/off-ramps would not affect its own operations.

This content was originally published here.

Indian Crypto Exchanges Like CoinDCX, WazirX Are in Survival Mode, Trying to Extend Their Runways

Indian crypto exchanges are in survival mode, cutting costs wherever possible, re-negotiating partner contracts, suspending employee pay-hikes, conducting lay-offs, exploring new revenue models and rebranding themselves, all in an effort to extend their financial runways – when they run out of money.

CoinDesk spoke to employees and senior executives at six prominent Indian crypto platforms – CoinDCX, CoinSwitch, WazirX, BuyUCoin, ZebPay and Giottus. Several of these exchanges said their runways range from 21 months to four years, which can, if true, likely take them into the next bull market. CoinSwitch and ZebPay did not share their financial runway timelines.

Four months into the imposition of the 30% tax, the industry’s advocacy body was disbanded and enforcement agencies were investigating at least 10 crypto exchanges for allegedly assisting foreign firms launder money via crypto. Soon, the world took note and global industry leaders such as Binance CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao claimed India’s taxes would probably “kill the industry” in the country.

India, as president of the Group of 20 (G-20) in 2023, has prioritized framing globally coordinated rules for the crypto sector. As a result, experts say, it needed to align with the guidelines of the global standard setter, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on virtual assets by including Indian crypto business under anti-money laundering rules.

This move, which adds some legitimacy to the sector by way of setting up regulatory oversight, has fueled a little optimism among Indian exchanges on the local industry’s longevity, even if the nation doesn’t change its tax regime, according to several industry officials. But they don’t have an answer to what happens if the tax regime stays the same – and are taking various steps to guard against such a scenario.

“CoinSwitch has always been conscious of its expenses,” said Ashish Singhal, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “Today, we are proudly serving more than 19 million registered users, and are excited to grow and evolve with them by providing them with a diverse range of investment options, including fixed deposits (FD), mutual funds, Indian stocks, and more.”

Singhal also said his company has “strengthened its leadership team by hiring industry experts,” presumably to navigate regulators, even if he added that the recent step to bring crypto businesses under anti-money laundering rules was a “significant positive advancement.”

Given ZebPay’s team has seen crypto’s early up and down cycles, it follows two ways to survive – “use profits made during previous bull runs or use funds from marketing partnerships or investors,” Ranga said. Like WazirX, ZebPay also has a partnership with TaxNodes.

“By the end of 2024, we will see a good bull run,” said Atulya Bhatt, its co-founder. “Crypto is a seasonal market and every four years bitcoin goes up and down. It will take 10 years for crypto to become completely sustainable.”

“We have a two-year runway under the current conditions,” said Vikram Subburaj, Giottus’ co-founder and CEO. “Our focus is completely on bringing in operational excellence, building your products right, drastically cutting marketing and acquisition expenses, and reducing perceived risks associated with exchanges.”

This content was originally published here.