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$4 Billion Bitcoin Money Laundering Scheme Sees First Indictment by U.S. Jury

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Controversy has swept the bitcoin community after a Russian man was indicted by a U.S. jury for using digital currency to launder more than $4 billion for criminal networks.

Russian “Mastermind” Apprehended

Alexander Vinnik – the alleged “mastermind” behind the money laundering scheme – was arrested in a small village in northern Greece on Tuesday following an investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice. Just 24 hours later, the Russian national was indicted by a U.S. jury as being the operator of BTC-e, a bitcoin exchange used to launder money for drug traffickers and cyber criminals.

Reuters reports that the website Vinnik was running had “7 million bitcoins deposited, and 5.5 million bitcoins in withdrawals.”

Vinnik has been on the U.S. Ministry of Justice watch list since 2011. Authorities have also linked him to the failure of Mt. Gox, whose collapse in 2014 raised fears about the imminent demise of the cryptocurrency system.

Also Read: Alleged BTC-E Admin Arrested for Laundering $4 Billion in Bitcoin

Cyber Crime: Bitcoin’s Enduring Legacy

Although bitcoin’s image in the mainstream has improved over the past three years, some of its detractors view it as nothing more than a conduit for illegal activity, with money laundering being only one example. The federal take-down of Silk Road in 2013 highlighted the extent to which cryptocurrency was being used to evade the authorities.

In 2016, a high-profile breach of Hong Kong-based exchange Bitfinex also shone negative spotlight on the crpytocurrency market, raising concerns about a lack of insurance protocols.

Bitcoin Prices Stable

The indictment of Vinnik had little impact on the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin prices trading around 2,675.00, according to Bitstamp. That represents a gain of 2%. Prices fluctuated between $2,550.00 and $2,601.00 during the Asian session.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 554 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Volatility Plummets to 14-Month Low

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A closely-watched gauge of bitcoin’s monthly volatility has fallen to its lowest level in over a year, a sign the world’s leading cryptocurrency is entering a period of relative calm.

Bitcoin Volatility

Bitcoin’s month-on-month volatility has not only decreased from its December peak, it has fallen to its lowest level since May 2016, according to Diar, a weekly institutional publication on digital assets.

In its Volume 2 Issue 33 & 34 report, Diar said bitcoin price volatility is “setting an actual trend downwards for the first time.” Interestingly, the decline in volatility was associated with the launch of bitcoin futures back in December – something former CME Chairman Leo Melamed predicted.

“We will regulate, make bitcoin not wild, nor wilder. We’ll tame it into a regular type instrument of trade with rules,” Melamed predicted at the time, according to Diar.

Month-on-month volatility declined to 3% in July from 8% in December. However, given that bitcoin futures account for a mere 2% against spot trading, it’s too premature to conclude that derivatives played a directional role in volatility.


Source: Diar

Although bitcoin is exhibiting less volatility, liquidity constraints continue to strangle the market. Fund issuers, including some backed by CBOE, have attempted to solve this issue by launching a bitcoin exchange-traded fund. However, each application submitted to the SEC has either been rejected or had its ruling delayed.

Below is a breakdown of a recent string of bitcoin ETF applications, including their final deadlines.


Source: Diar

Opposing Views

Bitcoin futures are often blamed for increased volatility because they allow traders to easily short digital currency – a practice that was virtually impossible before the derivatives contracts were introduced in December. This was one of the main arguments put forward by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in a report that linked bitcoin futures to the market’s subsequent collapse.

According to the San Francisco Fed’s report:

“The peak price coincided with the introduction of bitcoin futures trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The rapid run-up and subsequent fall in the price after the introduction of futures does not appear to be a coincidence. Rather, it is consistent with trading behavior that typically accompanies the introduction of futures markets for an asset.”

Bitcoin is exerting a bigger gravitational pull on other cryptocurrencies after its share of the total market returned above 50% for the first time since December. Bitcoin’s price swings have also been less volatile than its peers, a sign that investors were diverting funds away from more speculative altcoins and tokens.

At the time of writing, a single bitcoin was valued at $6,440 on Bitfinex.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 554 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Altcoins

Cryptocurrency Market Treads Water in Anticipation of Bitcoin’s Next Breakout

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Cryptocurrencies traded marginally lower on Monday, as bitcoin, the market’s chief bellwether, awaited its next major breakout. According to the technical charts, the bitcoin price is poised to continue higher in the short term, though damaged investor psychology could undermine those efforts.

Market Update

The combined value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation reached $213.3 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. The market is little changed compared with 24 hours ago and is roughly $5 billion lower than the intraday peak.

Trade volumes continued to hover in the $11-$12 billion range after briefly surpassing $16 billion on Saturday.

Most major assets in the top-ten were trading lower, with losses ranging from 1.6% to 3.9%.

Bitcoin traded within a $140 range on Bitfinex, eventually settling at $6,450. BTC is little changed for the day.

The bitcoin price is showing signs of stabilizing after last week’s modest recovery, which saw prices bounced from $5,860 toward $6,600. In doing so, BTC crossed the 50-day moving average and looks poised to test the 200-day MA, based on the four-hour charts.

 At current values, bitcoin accounts for 52.2% of the total cryptocurrency market. Therefore, its next move will have major implications on altcoins and tokens.

Bitcoin ETF Talk

The cryptocurrency market is still reeling from the SEC’s non-decision on a highly touted bitcoin exchange-traded fund. As Hacked reported nearly two weeks ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission delayed its ruling until Sept. 30 in order to weigh thousands of public comments on the matter. For many, the agency’s forthcoming decision could make or break the market – at least, in the short term.

The asset in question is the CBOE-backed VanEck SolidX Bitcoin ETF. According to the application, VanEck and SolidX are proposing a fund backed by physical bitcoin with an insurance component to protect investors against operational risks associated with sourcing and holding the digital asset. Naturally, investors are excited about the fund’s potential and believe it solves many of the SEC’s concerns around safety and price manipulation.

However, the consensus among analysts is that approval is too premature at this stage. For starters, the SEC has yet to fully grasp the implications of a bitcoin ETF. As a matter of fact, the agency only recently deemed bitcoin to be a non-security. According to analysts, the SEC is likely to delay its ruling until next year as the agency investigates the matter further.

Fixation on the ETF narrative ignores the myriad of positive developments concerning crypto custody and the recently announced Bakkt initiative, which aims to bring cryptocurrencies to mainstream investors and consumers.

Bakkt, which was announced last month, is a new startup funded by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Microsoft, Starbucks and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), among others.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 554 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Altcoins

IOTA, Vechain Lead Tepid Crypto Market Recovery on Sunday

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Digital currencies IOTA and VeChain were among the biggest gainers on Sunday, though a lack of buying interest kept the broader market at a standstill.

IOTA, Vechain Lead Recovery

In terms of percentage gains, IOTA was among the best-performing cryptocurrencies on Sunday. The value of MIOTA sprung up 12.2% to $0.545 on trade volumes of $44.4 million.

IOTA is rebounding from extreme oversold levels after being losing more than 40% of its value during the latest rout in market prices. MIOTA was disproportionately impacted by the recent downturn because of multiple controversies at the Berlin-based IOTA Foundation. As Hacked reported earlier this month, a failed partnership with Sirin Labs and internal divisions at the Foundation have all contributed to the massive drop.

IOTA, which has since dropped to no. 12 on the crypto market cap rankings, has trimmed its seven-day decline to just 1.7%.

Meanwhile, the highly touted VeChain (VET) rose 12.1% to $0.013, regaining much of Saturday’s sharp reversal. The digital currency is also enjoying some momentum after launching its official mainnet in late June. The accompanying token swap on Binance officially produced VeChain Thor (VET), which is the cryptocurrency now quoted by the market.

Although there was no immediate catalyst for the recent upsurge in IOTA and VeChain, both currencies are part of a much larger initiative aimed at monetizing the Internet of Things. In particular, VeChain is benefiting from China’s latest push to speed up development and commercial implementation of blockchain technology. VeChain has developed national level partnerships with various government entities in the world’s second-largest economy.

Broader Market Trades Laterally

Gains in the broader cryptocurrency market were much slower to materialize on Sunday. At the time of writing, the total cryptocurrency market cap was worth $216.6 billion, up just 1.3% over the previous day.

Tepid moves in the broader market were accompanied by a sharp drop in total trading volumes. Market turnover has plummeted by 24% since Saturday, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest digital currency by market cap, continues to trade below a key technical resistance. Bitcoin’s lateral moves come despite multiple signs of a bullish reversal over the past few days. As Hacked reported Thursday, the bitcoin price has returned above the 50-day moving average with key measures of relative strength showing stronger upward momentum.

At the time of writing, bitcoin was trading at $6,404 on Bitfinex. The cryptocurrency’s total trade volumes declined to $3.3 billion after spending the better part of a week above the $4 billion mark. The bitcoin price is up 1.7% compared to last week.

Ethereum rose 2.1% on Sunday to $303, trimming its weekly drop to 5.9%. Meanwhile, XRP rose 3.6% on Sunday to $0.342. Compared with last week, the so-called banker’s cryptocurrency has gained 12.8%. At its lowest point, XRP was down 93% from its record high.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 554 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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