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South Korean Crypto Exchange Execs Arrested Amid USD 2B Fraud Fears

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Police in South Korea said they fear that the crypto exchange V Global could be at the center of a fraud network that has sucked in some USD 2bn, as investigations into the platform intensify and police officers raided the exchange’s offices.

Per Seoul Shinmun and Hankook Ilbo, police claim that some 52,000 customers may have been affected. They have been investigating the platform for several months, after a group of investors claimed they had not been able to withdraw funds from the exchange.

Assets worth some USD 214m were frozen back in May.

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Police said they believe the platform – whose website is still operational and ostensibly looks like a standard South Korean crypto exchange – was, in fact, a front for a pyramid scam. The website has not been updated with any announcements since May, and the company has not responded to Cryptonews.com requests for comment.

Police have obtained arrest warrants for four individuals, three of whom are reportedly senior-level executives. A court that granted the arrest warrants agreed with police that there was a danger that the individuals could otherwise flee with investor assets – perhaps feeling the kind of “exit scam” that appears to have blighted South African investors in the Africrypt platform, as its masterminds, two brothers aged 21 and 20, have allegedly fled overseas with some USD 3.6bn worth of customer coins.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, over 70 others have been cautioned as the police continue their investigations into V Global.

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Police charged the four arrestees with various fraud and illegal marketing-related offenses.

The exchange is thought to be the brainchild of a 31-year-old surnamed Lee. Media outlets in South Korea have reported that Lee was investigated for using suspected and illegal multi-level marketing (MLM) methods while at another, now-defunct exchange.

Police say that Lee had been living “a life of luxury,” and that the V Global hierarchy consisted of eight levels, with 82% of “members” at the lowest ring. Members were told they would receive bonuses for recruiting more people, and were given assurances that their stakes of around USD 5,300 would draw massive returns of triple their original investments.

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However, police added that many such bonuses appear to have been paid out in the firm’s own token, which officers explained has “no monetary value.”

Lawyers representing a group of customers claim that up to 70,000 people may have been affected.

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Grayscale’s Top Executive Joins Robinhood as New Chief Compliance Officer

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Robinhood hires a new CCO, the chief compliance officer of Grayscale

Robinhood brokerage app has welcomed Benjamin Melnicki as a new Chief Compliance Officer, who is also the holder of the same position at Grayscale Investments. He joined Grayscale in early January this year.

At the moment, Robinhood’s cryptocurrency arm is facing scrutiny from financial regulators. Last year, Robinhood was a target of an investigation connected to anti money laundering and certain cybersecurity problems experiences by its crypto division.

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As reported by U.Today previously, later this year, the brokerage firm plans to roll out cryptocurrency wallets for its users. The trials of wallets will kick off in October and will allow customers to deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies to addresses beyond Robinhood seamlessly.

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Crypto Exchange

Average Aussie crypto portfolio grew 258% in FY 20-21, survey reveals

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The average portfolio size on Australian cryptocurrency exchange BTC Markets has grown from $577.65 (795.5 Australian dollars) to $2,069.16 (2849.5 AUD) in the financial year 2021, signaling a 258.2% increase in portfolio holdings, according to exchange data compiled by Statista on a recent BTC Markets survey.

Data on the survey shows that the average portfolio size of female and male investors in fiscal 20-21 on BTC Markets was $1,924.30 (2,650 AUD) and $2,214.03 (3,049 AUD), respectively. However, in 2020, the average portfolio size of female Aussie investors exceeded male investors slightly. 

Transaction data on the exchange also showed a pattern of growing investment demand with aging. Considering the data provided by BTC Market on Australia’s average initial investment, investors above 65 years old have invested roughly $3,158.03, the highest ofall demographics.

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Following an incremental reduction across the various age groups, the youngest cryptocurrency traders, ranging from 18 to 24 years, tend to make comparatively small investments, standing at $792.96 on average. While older Australian crypto investors outweigh the new generation in initial investment, the younger crowd shows comparatively more activity in terms of daily trades.

Resonating the findings above, a September report from financial comparison website Finder shows that one in six Australians own cryptocurrencies, amounting to $8 billion in total investment. The report suggests that, like many other users in advanced industrialized countries, Australians were increasingly viewing cryptocurrencies as a new asset class. 

According to Cointelegraph’s report on the matter, Bitcoin (BTC) is the most popular cryptocurrency for the Australian crypto market held by 9% of investors. Other popular investments include Ether (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The report showed that, despite the growth in crypto investments, a significant barrier to entry for Australians is the difficulty in understanding crypto and the risks related to volatility.

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Switzerland to Impose Anti-Money Laundering Rules on Crypto Providers: Report

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FINMA requires all cryptocurrency providers to step up their game and monitor whether criminals use digital assets in illicit transactions.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority – FINMA – would reportedly require local digital asset providers to take additional steps in preventing criminals from employing cryptocurrencies. The watchdog would also turn its sight towards bitcoin ATMs as it believes that drug dealers often use these machines.

FINMA Targets Criminals Operating with Crypto

According to a Finews report, Switzerland’s financial regulator – the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority or simply FINMA – would closely supervise local crypto providers as an attempt to clamp down on money-laundering transactions.

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Swiss platforms and brokers dealing with digital assets would have to enhance their monitoring efforts and observe if bad actors employ cryptocurrencies. The Bern-based watchdog believes the initiative is “urgently necessary,” stressing that criminals use the asset class even to fund terrorism acts.

FINMA also turned its attention towards bitcoin automated teller machines. According to the regulator, drug dealers frequently use such ATMs as payment systems. It is worth noting that Switzerland is a relatively small nation, but its 130 Bitcoin automated teller machines place it in the sixth position among the countries with the most stations.

FINMA also passed an anti-money laundering provision according to which it lowered the threshold for unidentified crypto purchases from 5,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) to 1,000 CHF (around $1,080). Or, in other words, all financial providers dealing with digital assets have to collect data on anyone initiating transactions that exceed this amount.

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UBS: Crypto Regulations Could Spell Trouble

One of the leading banks in Switzerland – UBS – recently shared its views on the hot topic of digital asset regulations as it indicated that implementing certain rules might negatively impact the market.

Furthermore, the bank warned its customers that regulatory crackdowns can pop the “bubble-like” crypto markets. The Swiss bank also labeled the asset class as “speculative” alerting that it could be dangerous for professional investors:

“While we can’t rule out future price gains in cryptos, we see this as a speculative market that poses significant risks to professional investors.”

On another note, though, when the cryptocurrency market was booming at the beginning of May, UBS demonstrated a different attitude. Back then, it intended to enable its wealthy customers to receive digital asset exposure later in 2021 through third-party vehicles.

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