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Crypto escrow agent dodges jail after lying over stolen millions

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A Manhattan federal judge has let an escrow agent walk free for deceiving a crypto investment manager about having purchased $3.25 million worth of Bitcoin on their behalf in 2018.

During a hearing held over video conference on Feb. 4, U.S district Judge Edgardo Ramos ordered Volantis Market Making founder John Barry Thompson of Pennsylvania to repay the $3.25 million to New York-based investment manager, Iterative OTC, and sentenced him to three years of supervised release. Thompson pleaded guilty in October 2020.

According to legal publication Law 360, Judge Ramos took into account Thompson’s lack of ill-intent and the fact he had been victim of fraud himself, stating:

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“Mr. Thompson engaged in serious felonious conduct [but] we have to put that in context. This was an unusual fraud.”

Judge Ramos was also willing to grant Thompson some leeway due to concerns regarding Covid-19’s impact on the overcrowded U.S prison system. With the risk of contracting the virus being very high and a lack of readily available vaccinations in prisons, Ramos noted the U.S judicial system needed to “relieve as much pressure as we can from the correctional facilities.”

In 2018, Thompson’s escrow firm Volantis was sent $3.25 million by Iterative OTC to purchase 500 Bitcoin on their behalf. However, while attempting to purchase the BTC from a third party, Thompson found himself at a loss when the sellers allegedly took Iterative’s $3.25 million without providing any Bitcoin in return.

The two sellers, disbarred attorney Phillip Reichenthal and fugitive Randy Craig Levine, are now facing fraud charges in an ongoing court case before Manhattan U.S District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

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Despite having lost the funds, Thompson lied to Iterative for days about the unsuccessful trade and falsified account statements to show a balance for the BTC that was never purchased.

In July 2018, Thompson again falsified documents after a second client transferred Volantis $4 million to purchase BTC that was never acquired. Judge Ramos ordered Thompson to repay the $4 million.

Thompson assured the judge that he would keep a clean slate moving forward, stressing that while he was guilty of deceiving his clients, his intention had been for the deals to succeed.

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“I can promise your honor … I will not be in trouble with the law again,” he said.

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Ripple

Coinbase CEO Shows Support for Ripple and XRP Amid Battle with SEC

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The XRP Army believes that Brian Armstrong could be hinting at relisting the cryptocurrency

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has displayed support for Ripple in its fight against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a series of recent tweets, Armstrong writes that the company’s case is seemingly going “better than expected.”

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Armstrong stressed that launching attacks against the crypto industry and hurting investors is “politically unpopular.”

The head of the largest American exchange then channeled Ripple’s oft-repeated talking point about the SEC hurting consumers instead of protecting them:

The irony is that the people they are supposedly protecting are the ones attacking them.

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XRP relisting rumors get a new life  

Armstrong’s tweets inevitably reignited rumors about Coinbase potentially relisting XRP on its platform.

The exchange moved to suspend XRP trading after the SEC filed a lawsuit against Ripple on Jan. 19, which triggered a massive price drop.

As reported by U.Today, Coinbase relisting rumors started making the rounds on social media after XRP trading pairs started showing up on the company’s mobile app last month, but it ended up being a bug.

Despite its legal troubles, XRP has remained resilient, with crypto mogul Mike Novogratz recently noting that the cryptocurrency has tripled in value since the agency filed its complaint.

Coinbase’s run-in with the SEC

Ripple started alighting itself with Coinbase after Armstrong publicly called out the SEC for threatening to sue the leading exchange over its yet-to-launch lending offering.

Even though the company caved in to the SEC’s demands and shelved the product in question, it seems like it hasn’t buried the hatchet with the formidable regulator.

Earlier this month, Coinbase proposed replacing the agency with a new cryptocurrency-focused regulator, arguing that the laws from the 1930s were not suitable for the “technological revolution.”

The exchange will have to convince Congress to pass a legislation that will establish a dramatically different regulatory regime that it envisions.

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Bitcoin

Legendary Trader Peter Brandt Challenges Binance with Four Questions about 88% BTC Crash

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Here’s what is unclear for Mr. Brandt about mysterious Bitcoin (BTC) flash-crash of Oct. 21, 2021

Prominent trader and analyst Peter Brandt has taken to Twitter to ask his four questions in the context of the flagship crypto’s 88% dropdown.

What do Binance and Binance.US have in common?

First of all, Mr. Brandt challenged the character of corporate relationships between Binance and Binance.US, its unit focused on American markets.

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Also, Mr. Brandt asks whether Binance is planning to release detailed documents to specify statistics for trades, their volume and prices during the flash-crash.

Then, the trading legend asked about the role of the platform in taking the opposite side of a client fills.

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Besides the Binance CEO and co-founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Mr. Brandt mentioned the Interactive Brokers platform, U.S. watchdogs CFTC and SEC and Gary Gensler, the SEC chairman.

Most expensive “trading algorithm bug” ever?

Also, Mr. Brandt attached a screenshot of a tweet by CZ when Binance’s boss warned his audience about expected volatility spikes across cryptocurrency markets.

Finally, Mr. Brandt added that he never used Binance for trading.

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As covered by U.Today previously, on Oct. 21, 2021, amidst a spending rally, the Bitcoin (BTC) price briefly tanked to the $8,000 level, losing more than 88% in no time.

A similar flash-crash was registered on 26 other low-liquidity exchanges. A Binance.US representative attributed this dramatic plunge to a critical bug in third-party mechanisms by one of the platform’s sophisticated institutional clients.

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Crypto Exchange

Crypto investments a financial backup for Facebook whistleblower

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Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, revealed that her refuge in Puerto Rico is currently being supported by an auspiciously timed cryptocurrency investment.

Haugen worked as a Facebook product manager before accusing the company of spreading controversial and insensitive misinformation. She allegedly possesses numerous confidential research documents, which, according to her, shows that “Facebook prioritizes profit over the well-being of children and all users.” Previously, Facebook has been accused of influencing the 2016 United States presidential election with the help of Russian agencies.

In a follow-up interview with The New York Times, Haugen was asked about her financial situation:

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“For the foreseeable future, I’m fine, because I did buy crypto at the right time.”

The whistleblower also received financial help from nonprofit organizations (NPO) backed by Pierre Omidyar, a co-founder of eBay. However, Haugen clarified that Omidyar’s NPO fundings were only used to finance travel and related expenses.

According to Haugen, shifting to Puerto Rico helped her join her “crypto friends” who enjoy capital tax exemptions on Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency assets.

Iconic whistleblower and former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agent Edward Snowden also continues to show support for the Bitcoin economy amid regulatory pressures from governments across the world.

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On Oct. 4, Snowden tweeted about Bitcoin’s tenfold growth despite China’s blanket ban on crypto mining and trading.

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