Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: Crypto Traders in Troubled Waters
In today’s Bitcoin in Brief – crypto traders are in trouble due to issues with the trading platforms they have trusted. Hacked Italian Bitgrail exchange is closed again after a brief reopening. It suspended operations on request from the court of Florence, following a petition filed on behalf of one of its creditors. Also, beleaguered Romanian Btcxchange has shut down after multiple setbacks. A local bank recently closed its account.
Bitgrail Reopened, then Closed Again
Bitgrail, the Italian crypto exchange which suspended operations after losing 17 million XRB in a presumed hack this year, has briefly reopened and closed again. On May 1 the trading platform announced it will commence operations on the following day, May 2, 2018, with trading and withdrawals available for all supported coins, except Nano (XRB). Bitgrail also promised to restore the Nano market for users at a date to be announced shortly. “Our team is working hard on verifying all users who have submitted the documents in an expedited manner,” the statement read.
The reopening, however, did not last long. Yesterday, the exchange announced it was suspending operations again after receiving a notice from the court of Florence. The court asked for the immediate closure of Bitgrail following a “precautionary suspension request” by lawyers representing one of the 3,000 users who suffered losses in the hack. Last week, the law firm Bonelli Erede filed a petition on behalf of the creditor asking the court to declare the entities operating the exchange bankrupt. These are Webcoin Solutions di Francesco Firano and BG Services, formerly Bitgrail S.r.l.
In February, Bitgrail’s owner, Francesco Firano, announced “that internal checks revealed unauthorized transactions which led to a 17 million Nano shortfall.” The market value of the lost cryptocurrency was estimated at around $170 million at the time. About a month later, Bitgrail stated in a Telegram post that it will refund users through the creation and issuance of BGS tokens and denied responsibility for the losses. 20 percent of the missing funds were to be returned in Nano, and 80 percent in the new BGS coin. The users who were willing to accept the offer had to restore their accounts and give up any legal claims. Almost 80 percent of the participants in a Twitter poll hosted by Francesco Firano himself voted to close the trading platform.
Romanian Btcxchange Closing for Good
Btcxchange, the oldest bitcoin trading platform in Romania, has closed down after multiple setbacks through the years. The platform informed its customers about the decision in an announcement published on its website. Btcxchange had already shut down some of its operations in February and crypto-fiat conversion was not available to its users. However, clients were allowed to deposit bitcoin and maintain their accounts. “Please withdraw all your balances before May 1,” the company said in a statement.
The Romanian crypto exchange was launched in 2014. In December of that year, its team issued its first notice asking customers to withdraw their funds. The team claimed it had been denied access to the exchange servers by their lead programmer. Btcxchange shut down its operations again in August, 2016, after it was up for sale. Services were restored in November by the new owner. The latest episode of the drama unfolded in January this year when Idea Bank closed the platform’s account.
Chase Closes Erik Voorhees’ Credit Card Account
Shapeshift CEO Erik Voorhees has announced in a tweet that Chase Bank has closed his credit card account. “Chase just closed my credit card account. No warning. No explanation of any kind. Won’t tell me why,” he said in a post on the microblogging platform.
“No wonder people hate that company,” Voorhees added, correcting himself in a further comment: “Sorry, I shouldn’t have used the word ‘company.’ Company refers to a market-based organization that has to bring a product to market and compete openly.” He also notes that the bank is “more akin to a Soviet-style state-appendage that wraps itself in regulatory cronyism than a company.”
Coinbase Applauds New York Inquiry into Crypto Exchanges
US-based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet Coinbase has greeted the actions recently taken by New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, in regards to crypto trading platforms. “We applaud […] the action to bring further transparency to the virtual currency markets,” Coinbase chief legal officer Mike Lempres wrote in a letter. The exchange, which is licensed under New York’s Bitlicense regime, has published part of its response to Schneiderman’s office. Lempres discloses information about the assets stored on the platform, $150 billion, and the funding it has received. The letter also notes the company’s cooperation with authorities and regulators around the world.
In April, the Office of the Attorney General of New York sent letters to 13 crypto exchanges as part of an inquiry into policies and practices employed by the trading platforms. Not all of them have responded positively to the questionnaire. “When I saw this 34-point demand […] I realized that we made the right decision to get the hell out of New York,” Kraken CEO, Jesse Powell, said in a Twitter post. Mr. Powell also described acceptance of the questionnaire as “placative kowtowing.” His reaction has been praised by other representatives of the industry. Shapeshift CEO Eric Voorhees thanked Powell for “taking the ethical stance and speaking up for what’s right”.
Do you trust the trading platforms you are using? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Johannes Gees.
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