US Judge Orders Alleged Hacker to Pay Bail in Cryptocurrency

US Judge Orders Alleged Hacker to Pay Bail in Cryptocurrency

Regulation

A US federal judge has ordered an alleged hacker to pay the equivalent of $750,000 in cryptocurrency for bail. The man was charged with hacking video game company Electronic Arts (EA), obtaining in-game currency used to buy and sell in-game items, and selling access to online games though black-market websites.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Judge Orders Bail Payment in Crypto

US Judge Orders Alleged Hacker to Pay Bail in CryptocurrencyFederal Judge Jacqueline Corley has ordered a “hacker charged with illegally accessing computer network of [a] Bay Area company” to pay bail in cryptocurrency, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week.

Martin Marsich, a 25-year-old Serbian and Italian national whose last known residence was in Udine, Italy, was arrested at the San Francisco International Airport on August 8 while boarding a flight to Serbia. At the federal court in San Francisco where he made his first appearance the next day, the DOJ described:

Magistrate Judge Corley ordered Marsich released to a half-way house on the condition that he post the equivalent of $750,000 in cryptocurrency for bail.

Judge Corley was frequently in the news last November for ruling in favor of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against Coinbase. She ordered the crypto exchange to turn over information about U.S. taxpayers who conducted crypto transactions during the years 2013 to 2015.

The Case and FBI Complaint

A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent filed an affidavit in connection with the criminal complaint against Marsich on March 25. It states that “a video-game company headquartered in the Bay Area discovered that an individual had illegally accessed its internal computer network and granted access to parts of the company’s systems,” the Justice Department conveyed. “The intruder, later identified as Marsich, gained access to 25,000 accounts that allow customers to purchase items for use in video games.”

US Judge Orders Alleged Hacker to Pay Bail in CryptocurrencyFurthermore, the FBI complaint outlines that “Marsich allegedly used some of the information he obtained from the computer system to obtain in-game currency, used to buy and sell in-game items.” He was also accused of selling “access to the on-line game on black-market websites.”

According to the Daily Post, the Bay Area company is Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), a well-known American video game company headquartered in Redwood City, California. “After making the discovery of the intrusion, the company allegedly closed the stolen accounts and suffered a loss of approximately $324,000,” the DOJ further revealed, adding:

The complaint charges Marsich with intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization to obtain information for the purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain…and accessing a protected computer to defraud and obtain anything of value.

While clarifying that “a complaint merely alleges that crimes have been committed,” the agency noted that “If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution if appropriate for each violation.”

Why Did the Judge Order Payment in Crypto?

US Judge Orders Alleged Hacker to Pay Bail in CryptocurrencySan Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe was quoted by the Daily Post saying that he “had never heard of anyone bailing out of jail with cryptocurrency in any courtroom.” While acknowledging that cryptocurrency is now acceptable in a federal court, he believes that “a cryptocurrency bail would fly in San Mateo County Superior Court.”

Although the DOJ’s announcement does not specify the reason for bail payment in crypto, U.S. Assistant District Attorney Abraham Simmons explained that “judges can order many kinds of bail, including real estate owned by another person,” the publication conveyed and quoted him describing:

The judge could order just about anything…It really is quite broad…What the objective is is to get the defendant to comply with an order to appear later.

Simmons also said he was “certain” that if the value of the cryptocurrency were to fluctuate dramatically, either party could file a motion to change the bail amount. “I would imagine that either side would alert the court of an extreme change in the value of the asset, but it doesn’t mean that the court would care one way or the other.”

What do you think of Judge Corley ordering bail payment in cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Yahoo.


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Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly Jurisdictions

Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly Jurisdictions

Economy & Regulation

August is not the best period for important decisions but it seems a good time to sketch plans for the second active half of the year. Authorities in several countries have shared their intentions regarding the regulation and oversight of the crypto space. The club of crypto-friendly jurisdictions may accept new members this fall. Others may take a different route, at least for now.  

Also read: Malta Tops Exchange-Based Crypto Trade, Russia Leads in OTC Volume

Ukraine to Take Example from Switzerland, Malta, Gibraltar

Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly JurisdictionsKiev, which has postponed the adoption of crypto regulations for some time, has indicated its decision to follow the examples set by crypto-friendly jurisdictions like Switzerland, Malta, and Gibraltar. That’s according to comments made by Timur Khromaev, head of the country’s National Securities and Stock Market Commission (NSSMC).

Ukraine needs a law in order to become a leader in creating conditions for the development of the crypto market, he said, quoted by local and Russian media. Khromaev also believes that cryptocurrency is a financial instrument, before anything else, and insists that it should not be viewed as a means of payment. This presumption is a corner stone of the new regulatory concept adopted recently by Ukraine’s Financial Stability Council of which the NSSMC is a member. The high-ranking Ukrainian official also stated:

We plan to legally recognize cryptocurrencies as a financial assets and allow people to invest and use these financial instruments.

The next step, Khromaev added, will be to implement a mechanism for taxation and define the regulatory responsibilities of relevant government institutions. According to the NSSMC’s president, the new legislation, which is currently being developed in cooperation with Ukrainian deputies and representatives of the industry, is expected to be adopted by the end of the year or in early 2019.

New Russian Crypto Law Coming Soon, Official Says

Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly JurisdictionsAccording to Elina Sidorenko, head of the interdepartmental group assessing the risks associated with cryptocurrencies, the revamped Russian crypto legislation, which “takes into account earlier remarks, as well as the interests of the business and the financial regulators,” will be presented in the near future. The new draft will list “the rights, duties and responsibilities of participants in crypto-relations,” Sidorenko wrote in her Telegram channel.

In May, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, adopted three crypto bills on first reading – “On Digital Financial Assets,” “On Attracting Investments Using Investment Platforms,” and “On Digital Rights.” Deputies then attempted to synchronize the texts, taking out terms like “digital money” but keeping legal definitions such as “digital financial assets” and “digital rights.” The second and third reading of the bills were supposed to take place before July 1, as President Putin had ordered, but they were postponed for the new parliamentary session in September.

Latvia to Adopt a Law for Cryptocurrency Taxation

Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly JurisdictionsEarlier this year, Latvian authorities announced they were considering the possibility to recognize cryptocurrency as a means of exchange in order to impose tax on capital gains from crypto deals. Now, according to local media reports, the government in Riga wants to accomplish this through new legislation and the Latvian Ministry of Finance is preparing a draft law that’s supposed to be ready by December. The bill should determine the taxation procedures applicable to incomes of individuals from transactions with virtual money, including cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

Alexander Kitchenko, member of the Latvian Bitcoin Foundation, revealed details about the proposed tax mechanism in conversation with the local outlet Baltnews.lv. Authorities, he said, intend to collect taxpayers’ data from crypto trading platforms. The monitoring will be performed on the entrance and exit of the crypto space, where corporate entities act like intermediaries for crypto-fiat transactions. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will most likely be taxed as digital property, the expert elaborated.

Hungary Mulls Crypto Regulations and Taxation

Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly JurisdictionsAuthorities in Budapest are considering and drafting regulations for the crypto sector in Hungary. Representatives of the central bank, the finance ministry, the tax service, and other government institutions have formed a working group tasked to assess the legal, economic, security and other aspects of cryptocurrencies, Hungarian media reported.

The Ministry of Finance, quoted by the local financial outlet Portfolio, reminded Hungarians that cryptocurrencies are not yet accepted as legal means of payment in the country. They do not qualify as legal tender, electronic cash, financial instrument, or cash equivalent, the ministry emphasized.

Nevertheless, local crypto investors are expected to pay taxes on their incomes from dealings in cryptocurrency even under the current legislation. Profits from crypto transactions are classified as “other income” on tax returns which means 15% tax is due, as well as 22% in the form of health insurance contributions. Legal entities are obliged to pay the treasury 9% income tax and 2% corporate tax.

Kazakhstan to Follow in the Footsteps of Belarus

Regulations Roundup: This Fall May Bring More Crypto-Friendly JurisdictionsKazakhstan, the Central Asian powerhouse which has been wandering for some time between two extremes – banning cryptocurrencies and supporting crypto development – may eventually implement a Belarus style solution. The Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), which was launched with the goal to turn the country into a regional financial hub, has put forward draft regulations that will place the oversight of cryptos and token sales under its control. That’s a much more crypto-friendly scenario than the alternative of letting the central bank be the main regulator. The National Bank of Kazakhstan has previously called for the prohibition of crypto transactions, exchange, and business.

The legal amendments are designed to facilitate investors, private individuals and corporate entities that want to work with cryptocurrencies in the AIFC, Forbes Kazakhstan reports. They envisage the classification of cryptocurrencies within the national legislation and the adoption of mechanisms to regulate and license the operators of cryptocurrency exchanges. Rules and regulations for crowdfunding through initial coin offerings (ICOs) and the use of smart contracts are also included in the proposed legal framework.

What are your thoughts on these regulatory developments? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Only Seven Crypto Firms Authorized to Legally Operate in Thailand

Only Seven Crypto Firms Authorized to Legally Operate in Thailand

Regulation

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced the names of seven cryptocurrency firms that have been authorized to legally operate in the country. Five of them are crypto exchanges; two are cryptocurrency dealers.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Seven Crypto Firms Authorized

Only Seven Crypto Firms Authorized to Legally Operate in ThailandThe Thai SEC has announced the names of the cryptocurrency firms that have been authorized to operate in the country while their applications are being reviewed by the regulators. Seven firms, consisting of five crypto exchanges and two dealers, have been granted temporary approval to operate until their applications are either approved or denied.

Crypto exchanges that have been authorized are Bitcoin Co. Ltd. (BX), Bitkub Online Co. Ltd., Cash2coins Co. Ltd., Satang Corporation (Tdax), and Coin Asset. The two approved dealers are Coins TH Co. Ltd. and Digital Coin Limited (Thai WM).

Only Seven Crypto Firms Authorized to Legally Operate in ThailandRecently, Coin Asset unveiled a crypto ATM that can handle six cryptocurrencies and multiple fiat currencies. Coins TH was launched in 2014 by Filipino remittance company Coins.ph.

Mr. Rapee Sucharitakul, Secretary-General of the Thai SEC, explained that cryptocurrency investing carries high risks. The Commission urges anyone being approached to invest in cryptocurrencies or crypto projects to first check whether those companies have been approved to legally operate in the country.

Why Seven? Two More Being Reviewed

Thailand’s crypto and initial coin offering (ICO) regulations went into effect on May 14. The Thai SEC, the main regulator of the country’s crypto industry, started accepting applications for licenses to operate crypto businesses in the country last month. News.Bitcoin.com reported last week that about 20 exchanges, 50 ICO projects, and five ICO portals have indicated interest in applying with the SEC.

Only Seven Crypto Firms Authorized to Legally Operate in ThailandCryptocurrency firms that were operating in the country prior to May 14 could apply for a temporary license while their actual applications are being reviewed by the regulators. They had 90 days, until August 14, to apply.

On August 15 the SEC revealed that the seven companies above have applied and been granted temporary approval to operate until the regulators have either approved or rejected their applications.

In addition, the SEC is currently verifying two more crypto firms that claim to be in business prior to the enforcement of the regulations.

Other than the nine companies mentioned above, all other firms seeking to operate a crypto business in Thailand must obtain approval from the ministry of finance and the SEC before commencing a crypto business.

What do you think of the Thai SEC granting temporary approval to seven crypto firms while reviewing their applications? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Thai SEC.


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