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SBF’s alleged Chinese bribe, Binance clarifies account freeze: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

According to October 11 testimony from Caroline Ellison, co-founder of FTX-linked hedge fund Alameda Research, her colleague — disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried — allegedly paid $150 million in bribes to Chinese government officials in 2021, higher than the $40 million disclosed initially.  

Ellison said during the FTX trial that two years prior, $1 billion worth of Alameda Research’s digital assets on crypto exchanges OKX and Huobi were frozen by Chinese law enforcement as part of a money-laundering investigation. Senior FTX executives, such as chief operations officer Constance Wang and Alameda trader David Wa, were also involved in the incident. The individuals first tried to contact a Chinese lawyer to unfreeze the funds, which didn’t work. 

The disgraced FTX founder will be on trial throughout October. (Wikipedia)

Then, FTX and Alameda staff allegedly created accounts on OKX and Huobi using the identification of a Thai prostitute to negotiate the return of funds. When that didn’t work out, Ellison accused Bankman-Fried of paying a $150 million bribe to unfreeze the accounts. The bribe was recorded as “the thing” in future Alameda balance sheets. According to Ellison’s testimony, the funds were immediately unfrozen following the bribe.

Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York reminded the jurors that Bankman-Fried’s alleged bribery of Chinese officials is not within the scope of the ongoing FTX trial. Instead, a second trial relating to SBF’s bribery charges has been scheduled for March 11, 2024. The FTX trial will remain ongoing for the month of October. 

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Elon Musk streams, Amazon partners with Immutable, MetalCore preview: Web3 Gamer

The social media website X, formerly known as Twitter, hosted its first gaming stream — a 50-minute-long Diablo 4 gameplay — on October 6. The stream, which has over 42 million views at the time of writing, involved X owner Elon Musk playing Blizzard Entertainment’s latest title and answering questions from viewers.

The stream happened as a test of X’s new streaming feature, as Musk wanted to see if the audio sounded normal, if the image looked reasonably good and whether the comments were working. The result was a success, with the stream concluding without any interceptions or distortions.

Musk’s desire to make X a super app is no secret, and this move is just another brick in the wall of features the “everything app” aspires to offer. Musk commented on X’s place among other streaming apps like Kick and Twitch:

“I think the very specialist apps are still gonna be probably better than us in a lot of ways, but you know, I think we can be the best generalist app. There’s some value to being a generalist app for, I guess, discovery and for interacting with the largest number of people in the world.”

He continued to answer viewer questions toward the end of the stream without speaking a word about crypto and announced the streaming feature for Xbox and PS5.

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Eleanor Terrett on impersonators and a better crypto industry: Hall of Flame

Fox Business producer Eleanor Terrett says that, as she gains more recognition in the crypto community, she is becoming a prime target for social media impersonators.

“So, I find myself having to tweet more often, saying, ‘Just a reminder, guys, I don’t have a private profile; I will never reach out to you,’” Terrett tells Magazine.

However, she warns that if you’re on the hunt for the next runaway altcoin, it’s probably not going to be her who finds it for you.

“I don’t have stock trading tips or crypto trading tips,” Terrett declares.

It’s a pity she can’t say the same for all those impersonators floating around out there: “They’re scamming people as well. There is one called Eleanor Terrett Private. They are inboxing people, saying, ‘Subscribe to my trading strategy.’”

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Beyond crypto: Zero-knowledge proofs show potential from voting to finance

In a world increasingly anxious about privacy and exploitation of one’s personal data by governments, corporations, social media platforms and banks, zero-knowledge proofs may offer some relief. 

Indeed, this emerging cryptographic protocol could partially remedy two rapidly growing global deficits: privacy and truth.

ZK-proofs have already found a home within the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector — enabling scaling protocols to make Ethereum transactions faster and cheaper, for example. But this may just be the beginning. 

One day, ZK-proofs could help convince your bank that your income is above a certain threshold — to qualify for a mortgage, for example — without revealing your actual income. Or prove to the election authorities that you are a resident or citizen without giving them your name, driver’s license or passport.

ZK-proofs open up a new world of potential applications, including “anonymous voting, decentralized games, proving personal information without fully disclosing your personal information, and fighting against fake news by proving the source of the news,” Polygon co-founder Jordi Baylina tells Magazine.

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SBF trial underway, Mashinsky trial set, Binance’s market share shrinks: Hodler’s Digest, Oct. 1-7

The trial of former FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried kicked off on Oct. 4 in New York after jury selection began the previous day. Assistant United States Attorney Thane Rehn told jurors that SBF used FTX customer funds to enrich himself and gain credibility among politicians through donations. “The defendant blamed a downturn in the crypto market. But he had committed fraud. That is what the evidence in this trial will show. You will hear from his inner circle. His girlfriend will tell you how they stole money together,” Rehn said. SBF’s attorney Mark Cohen said the “girlfriend,” former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison, and Changpeng Zhao, CEO of rival cryptocurrency exchange Binance, share some of the blame for the downfall of FTX. Check out our detailed recap on Sam Bankman-Fried’s first week at trial.

Alex Mashinsky, former CEO of crypto lender Celsius, will be tried on charges of fraud and market manipulation in September 2024, a judge decided on Oct. 3. Mashinsky will remain free on $40 million bail, subject to travel and financial restriction, in the meantime. Celsius filed for bankruptcy in July 2022 and Mashinsky was arrested in July of this year. He is accused of defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission all have active suits against Mashinsky as well. Former Celsius chief revenue officer Roni Cohen-Pavon pleaded guilty to four criminal charges in September.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance is continuing to lose market share for the seventh month in a row. Analysts say HTX (formerly Huobi), Bybit and DigiFinex were the beneficiaries of Binance’s slide. According to an analysis by CCData reported by Bloomberg, Binance’s share of the spot market fell from 38.5% in August to 34.3% in September. On the derivatives market, Binance’s share fell from 53.5% to 51.5% in the same period. Ongoing struggles with regulators in the United States were identified as one cause of Binance’s market share decline, but they also pointed out the end of the exchange’s zero-fee trading promotion for major trading pairs and Binance’s withdrawal from the Russian market, which made up 7% of its traffic.

A report shared with Cointelegraph by blockchain data analyst Nansen shows that FTX moved $4.1 billion worth of its native FTT tokens to Alameda Research between Sept. 28 and Nov. 1, 2022. FTX and Alameda Research controlled around 90% of the FTT supply. Nansen suggested that the companies were using them to prop up each other’s balance sheets. FTX also transferred $388 million in stablecoin to Alameda Research during the same period. Data implied that Alameda Research would not have been able to go through with its offer to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to buy out that exchange’s FTT holdings at $22 on Nov. 6. Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison made the offer on X (formerly Twitter) as the two entities scrambled to control the turmoil sparked by revelations of irregularities in their balance sheets. FTX filed for bankruptcy days later.

Asset management firm Valkyrie said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Sept. 29 that it will not purchase Ether in advance of receiving approval for its exchange-traded fund (ETF). Valkyrie had previously told Cointelegraph that it planned on allowing investors exposure to ETF futures before launching its combined Bitcoin and Ether Strategy ETF in early October. Not only that, Valkyrie said it would sell the ETH futures it had already bought. Valkyrie is among several financial firms that are expected to begin offering ETH futures ETFs soon. The SEC has delayed decisions on several of them. Observers say it may be due to concerns about a U.S. government shutdown.

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3AC fugitives in disarray as OPNX faces new peril: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

On Sept. 29, Su Zhu, co-founder of defunct Singaporean hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) — which prior to its collapse last June managed more than $10 billion in digital assets — was apprehended at Singapore’s Changi International Airport while attempting to flee the country following the issuance of a committal order. 

Just days prior to his arrest, Singaporean courts issued an arrest warrant for Zhu after his “deliberate failure to comply with a court order obtained which, in essence, compelled him to cooperate with the liquidator’s investigations and account for his activities as one of the founders of 3AC and its former investment manager.” Zhu, a Singaporean national, was sentenced to four months in prison for the breach. 

Teneo, the appointed liquidator for 3AC, said in an email statement that creditors would “seek to engage with him on matters relating to 3AC, focusing on the recovery of assets that are either the property of 3AC or that have been acquired using 3AC’s funds” during his time in prison.

“The liquidators will pursue all opportunities to ensure Mr. Zhu complies in full with the court order made against him for provision of information and documents relating to 3AC and its former investment manager during the course of his imprisonment and thereafter,” Teneo wrote. 

3AC co-founder Kyle Davies (Left) and Su Zhu (Right)
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Pioneering generative artist propelled by personal tragedy — Matt Kane, NFT Creator 

If there’s ever been an artist suited for the digital renaissance of putting art on the blockchain, it would be Matt Kane — a traditional artist who transitioned into digital art by writing his own software and pushing boundaries impossible in the physical art world. 

Kane is most known for his collection “Gazers,” which launched in December 2021 and is considered by many to be an OG among generative artists. He recently released his collection Anons, which is centered around understanding identity through art and immortalizing true anons from yesteryear.

Kane spent a chunk of his career as a software developer but was always experimental with different artistic mediums, including physical canvas. However, the limitations of the physical art world made the American ponder whether digital art could remove many of the barriers to better his vision for creating art.

“In my 20s and 30s, I was really trying to find what the right medium for my voice was. I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with canvas and fabric because I was really interested in pattern. But I realized it’s not the medium that matters — it’s my vision. It’s how I get my vision and my mind out into the world,” Kane tells Magazine. 

“Within that realization, I knew I had to learn to code because there’s so many physical limitations to traditional art. Code circumvents the limitations of our physical bodies and time. It allows us to manifest our visions, and so it’s become the perfect medium for me.”

Anon #3 by Matt Kane
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The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution: An on-the-ground report

In Cuba’s capital, Havana, a Bitcoin community has emerged from an economically antagonistic environment.

“Satoshi didn’t create Bitcoin for Cubans, but it really comes in handy for us,” Forte, co-founder of the aptly named local Bitcoin organization Cuba Bitcoin, tells Magazine.

Cubans are turning to Bitcoin because their money is increasingly worthless. Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Lebanon often compete for media coverage about runaway inflation levels, but the Cuban peso is not far behind.

The Cuban peso has devalued so much over the last few years that carrying bags of cash is increasingly common among the rich and the poor.
In practice, even if someone bought Bitcoin at the top of the 2021 bull run at $69,000, their money is worth much less in Cuban pesos. Whereas Bitcoin dropped 80% to its bear market low, it has since recovered 100%, and the peso has devalued by 90%.

The realization that someone should swap local currency for the Bitcoin top, knowing that it will crash and they’ll still retain more purchasing power, is one of the many financial wake-up calls received while working on Cointelegraph’s new documentary, The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution. 

In 2021, I came across the article “Inside Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution” by Human Rights Foundation chief strategy officer Alex Gladstein, in which he explains how and why Cubans were utilizing Bitcoin’s stateless and low-fee properties to save money and escape financial oppression. 
In line with the Bitcoin mantra of Don’t trust, Verify, I went to see with my own eyes what Gladstein described.

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Singer Vérité’s fan-first approach to Web3, music NFTs and community building

Carving out a sustainable career as an independent musician is no easy feat. The competition is fierce, support can be hard to find, and earning a living without the financial help of a major record label is an uphill battle. Yet, for those who are able to build a loyal fanbase, the freedom of complete creative control can be liberating.

Technology has long proven to be a potential friend to those musicians willing to embrace it, and nonfungible tokens are the latest innovation that many tech-savvy artists have begun incorporating into their careers. But NFTs remain both controversial and experimental, especially among the mainstream, and music NFTs are still relatively niche.

One artist who has cracked the code to maintaining a successful career as an independent musician is American singer Vérité, who has racked up hundreds of millions of streams without the support of a record label since releasing her first single, “Strange Enough,” in 2014. 

After finding success and touring internationally, Vérité became one of the earliest musicians to experiment with NFTs in February 2021. Since then, she has built a strong Web3 community and had several successful high-profile drops, including releasing 1/1 NFTs, selling the master rights to her music, fractionalizing song royalties on the blockchain and giving NFTs to concert attendees. She has done all this while still retaining her dedicated non-Web3 fans, many of whom have little to no interest in crypto.

How does one walk this fine line and successfully integrate Web3 into their career without alienating their existing, perhaps skeptical, fans? Magazine sits down with Vérité to find out. 

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6 Questions for JW Verret — an attorney who’s tracking the money, but advocating for crypto

J.W. Verret is a Harvard-educated attorney who teaches corporate finance and accounting at George Mason University. His work has increasingly intersected with the cryptocurrency sector in recent years, as his legion of Twitter followers — who know him as “BlockProf,” or the Blockchain Professor — are poignantly aware.

Aside from his work at GMU, Verret has become known as a vocal advocate for crypto as the top honcho at Crypto Freedom Lab, a think tank fighting devoted to preserving “freedom and privacy for crypto developers and users.” He also serves as a professional legal witness for defendants accused — wrongfully, Verret would argue — of evading financial-tracking laws. In between, he finds time to serve as a regular columnist for Cointelegraph.

I spent 15 years as a libertarian regulation/financial person, writing it, think-tanking it in Washington, D.C. For the first 10 years, I lost everything I fought for in the Dodd-Frank era.

The thing with crypto is that it’s been a freedom revolution in finance. It fixes, or aims to fix, problems in finance that government regulation only aims to fix. Regulation entrenches intermediaries where crypto fixes problems by eliminating the need for those intermediaries. And that was very interesting to me. 

It was a good experience. I replaced Hester Pierce when she became an SEC commissioner. I wrote a lot of dissents as a committee member, so I hope I did Hester proud, but I do not think they’ll invite me back in the future under the current chairman. It seems like he’s been trying to just destroy this industry. He could’ve reached out to the industry to try to make things work, but he has no interest in that, and he’s sued some of the best actors in crypto — Coinbase and Kraken — while ignoring the worst.

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Ether futures ETFs launching, SBF trial to begin and 3AC’s Su Zhu arrested: Hodler’s Digest, Sept. 24-30

Investment firm Valkyrie will start offering exposure to Ether futures in the coming days. On Sept. 28, the firm told Cointelegraph that its Bitcoin Strategy ETF will allow investors access to Ether and Bitcoin futures “under one wrapper,” making it one of the first firms to do so amid several pending applications with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Starting Oct. 3, the fund’s name will be updated to the Valkyrie Bitcoin and Ether Strategy ETF. Asset manager VanEck also disclosed its upcoming Ethereum Strategy ETF, which will be listed on the Chicago Board Options Exchange in the coming days. Analysts suggested that a potential U.S. government shutdown might have accelerated the launch of Ether futures ETFs.

Former FTX CEO Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried will spend at least 21 days in court as part of his criminal trial, which will begin in earnest on Oct. 4 and last until Nov. 9, according to a newly released trial calendar posted to the public court docket. The first official date of the Bankman-Fried trial is Oct. 4, where the participants will begin discussing seven fraud charges laid against SBF. There are two substantive charges where the prosecution must convince a jury that Bankman-Fried committed the crime. Five other “conspiracy” charges involve the prosecution convincing a jury that Bankman-Fried planned to commit the crimes. The former FTX CEO has been serving pre-trial detention at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center since Aug. 11. If considered guilty of fraud, Bankman-Fried is likely to spend the rest of his life in prison, legal specialists explained to Cointelegraph.

Co-founder of Three Arrows Capital (3AC) Su Zhu was detained at Changi Airport in Singapore while trying to leave. Teneo, the joint liquidator of the now-bankrupt hedge fund, told Cointelegraph that Zhu’s arrest followed a committal order from the Singapore Courts, which is a directive used to imprison someone for contempt of court. On Sept. 25, Teneo secured this committal order, alleging that Zhu didn’t comply with a court order. His arrest is part of an ongoing investigation to retrieve funds for 3AC’s creditors. The $10 billion hedge fund crashed in 2022 due to the collapse of the Terra ecosystem. A similar committal order was granted against Kyle Davies, also co-founder of 3AC. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Binance has warned its European users to convert their euro (EUR) balances to Tether by Oct. 31 due to the loss of support from its banking partner, Paysafe. Paysafe ceased processing EUR deposits for Binance users on Sept. 25. While EUR withdrawals to bank accounts remain available, Paysafe users won’t be able to engage in EUR spot trading. Binance’s token swap feature, Binance Convert, will also restrict EUR transactions. Paysafe previously facilitated fiat deposits and withdrawals for Binance users in Europe, including via bank transfer in the European Union’s Single Euro Payments Area. The move is the latest to add to Binance’s regulatory and debanking woes in the West.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has again postponed its decision on several spot Bitcoin ETF applications, including those from BlackRock, Invesco, Bitwise and Valkyrie, ahead of a potential government shutdown. Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart anticipates similar delays for Fidelity, VanEck, and WisdomTree. These delays came two weeks before the applicants’ expected second deadline. Seyffart links the premature delays to an anticipated U.S. government shutdown on Oct. 1, which would impact financial regulators and federal agencies.

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China dev fined 3 yr’s salary for VPN use, 10M e-CNY airdrop: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

An unnamed individual in China was fined 1.06 million Yuan ($144,907) for using a virtual private network (VPN) to access restricted websites as part of a remote work routine for a foreign employer. 

According to local mediareportsearlier this week, during his employment as a consultant between 2019 to 2022 the unnamed individual accessed GitHub to view source code, answered questions in customer support, held teleconferences via Zoom, and posted multiple threads on Twitter with the help of a VPN.

Images from the China Digital Times story.

Based on a document issued by City of Chengde Police, the individual’s income earned with the aid of a VPN was deemed as “proceeds of crime.” The police issued a penalty of $144,097, equivalent to three years of the individual’s salary.

Chinese law prohibits the use of VPNs to bypass the country’s “Great Firewall” that blocks popular sites such as Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook. The ruling has spooked many in China’s IT and Web3 circles, who often rely on VPNs for similar remote-work tasks.

China Digital Times
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Minecraft bans Bitcoin P2E, iPhone 15 & crypto gaming, Formula E: Web3 Gamer

Back in our July edition, we announced Satlantis, an independent Minecraft server run by the game’s fans, enabled players to earn Bitcoin by completing in-game quests using play-to-earn functionalities. We noted Minecraft developer Mojang’s previous NFT ban and concluded, “Time will show how this integration fairs against the ban.”

Time has shown, as Microsoft subsidiary Mojang has asked Satlantis to remove the play-to-earn features, according to a Discord post by server founder David Dineno. The server accepted the request and removed the feature two days after the Discord post.

The Satlantis founder stood behind the play-to-earn model and expressed his annoyance with the situation, stating:

“The Game That Shares its Profits with Players’ works. And it works well. All of the time, money, and energy that we put into this game together will not be forsaken by a few dinosaurs at some conglomerate.”

Despite the setback, the Satlantis community can take solace in the fact that the team is actively exploring alternative platforms that “encourage innovation instead of stifling it.”

Apple iPhone 15 Pro New Colors
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Blockchain detectives: Mt. Gox collapse saw birth of Chainalysis

It’s been more than a decade since 850,000 BTC went missing from Mt. Gox, yet the collapse of the former exchange remains one of the most infamous black swan events of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

While creditors of the defunct exchange are edging closer to some form of restitution, Mt. Gox’s demise ended up playing an important role in the development of tools to identify, track and tackle the illicit movements of funds through the wider cryptocurrency industry.

The search for answers and funds played a key role in the birth of crypto’s best-known blockchain analytics and tracing firm, Chainalysis, explains co-founder Michael Gronager.

Close to a decade later, Chainalysis’ analytics tools are being used by myriad private and public enterprises and institutions. From data analytics to pure law enforcement use cases, the firm’s services continue to prove influential — and sometimes controversial — across the industry.

Gronager is a crypto OG, having previously co-founded cryptocurrency exchange Kraken. He got involved in blockchain analysis after Kraken went looking for a steady banking partner and met a wall of wariness over the lack of visibility in the cryptocurrency ecosystem along with KYC and money laundering concerns.

The story of Chainalysis
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US gov’t messed up my $250K Bitcoin price prediction: Tim Draper, Hall of Flame

Tim Draper is a prominent venture capitalist, the founder of Draper University and the creator of the Meet The Drapers television series. He invested early in Tesla, SpaceX and Coinbase and has 254,000 followers on X.

“Let me get my second prediction to actually happen, and then we’ll move on to other predictions,” Tim Draper tells Hall of Flame, refusing to be drawn on price predictions for XRP and Ethereum.

This makes sense, given it’s been six years since he forecast that Bitcoin would reach $250,000 by 2022.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

Which is not to say it won’t happen eventually, as Draper has been pretty far-sighted in the past.

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Binance.US scores against SEC, Mt. Gox delay repayments, and other news: Hodler’s Digest, Sept. 17-23

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has failed to win immediate access to Binance.US’s software, with the judge saying he isn’t “inclined to allow the inspection at this time.” The hearing was held on Sept. 18 to discuss the SEC’s motion to compel Binance to hand over detailed information and make its executives more available for depositions. In a hearing, Judge Faruqui said that he wasn’t “inclined to allow the inspection at this time.” Alternatively, he proposed that the SEC should come up with more specific requests for discovery and speak with a broader range of witnesses. In another headline, Binance global and its CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao requested dismissal of the SEC’s lawsuit filed against them in June, claiming the regulator overstepped its authority in the case. 

Mt. Gox trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi has officially changed the deadline for paying back the exchange’s creditors from Oct. 31, 2023, to Oct. 31, 2024. Presently, the Mt. Gox estate holds some 142,000 Bitcoin (BTC), 143,000 Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and 69 billion Japanese yen. Mt. Gox was one of the earliest cryptocurrency exchanges, once facilitating more than 70% of all trades made within the blockchain ecosystem. Following a major hack in 2011, the site subsequently collapsed in 2014 due to alleged insolvency; the fallout affected about 24,000 creditors and resulted in the loss of 850,000 BTC.

Tether’s Treasury is set to provide a $1 billion near-term liquidity for the Tron network. The billionaire authorization was flagged by blockchain tracker WhaleAlert, which drew a quick-fire response from Tether chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino, who said that the USDT tokens would be used as inventory to “replenish” the Tron network. Authorizing USDT in the Tether Treasury allows the company to issue USDT instantaneously once customer funds are received to ensure that the issuer maintains 100% of its reserves. Ardoino added that the event was an authorization and not an actual issuance, with the allocated amount set to serve as inventory for upcoming issuance requests and chain swaps from the Tron network.

Debtors of FTX have launched legal action against the parents Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried, alleging that they misappropriated millions of dollars through their involvement in the crypto exchange. The plaintiffs argued that Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried exploited their access and influence within the FTX empire to enrich themselves at the expense of the debtors in the FTX bankruptcy estate. The debtors alleged that SBF’s parents were “very much involved” in the FTX business from inception to collapse, contrary to what SBF has claimed. According to the complaint, Bankman and Fried extracted significant unearned rewards from their involvement in FTX Group, including a $10-million cash gift and a $16.4-million luxury property in the Bahamas.

Digital currency investment company Grayscale is the latest firm to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a new Ether (ETH) futures exchange-traded fund (ETF).

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JPEX staff flee event as scandal hits, Mt. Gox woes, Diners Club crypto: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

Last week’s Token2049 conference in Singapore was a life-changing experience for some; for others the event did not meet expectations, but for a select group of individuals, the imminent prospect of being pursued by law enforcement meant they had to abandon their booths and flee the event.

On September 21, local news outletsreportedthat Hong Kong police had arrested 11 individuals linked to troubled cryptocurrency exchange JPEX on charges of fraud and operating an unlicensed virtual assets exchange. More than 2,000 users are estimated to have been affected by the scandal, with total funds of $1.3 billion Hong Kong dollars involved in the incident ($166 million). Police allege users’ assets have been embezzled by JPEX staff.

In a dramatic raid on September 13 — day one of the conference — Hong Kong police arrested key executives, leading its staff to abandon its corporate booth. The exchange subsequently applied for voluntary deregistration with the Australia Securities & Investment Commission, disclosing that its Australian entity had little assets left. After the news broke, JPEX reportedly raised its withdrawal fees to 999 USDT per transaction to prevent capital flight.

In anannouncementon September 20, JPEX said that 400 million Tether (USDT) worth of users’ deposits would be eligible for redemption. However, the catch is that the funds can only be redeemed starting in late 2025. The firm stated that due to the ongoing law enforcement investigation, its telecom service providers and asset custodians have frozen applicable services.

JPEX booth advertisement posted the day before the exchange was raided by police. (Facebook)
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NFT Collector: William Mapan explains generative art using a crayon and dice

Generative artist William Mapan’s latest collection, “Distance,” sold out in less than 24 hours despite launching in the middle of a very weak NFT market.

From his early long-form generative series “Dragons” on the Tezos blockchain to the highly sought-after “Anticyclone” ArtBlocks collection that currently commands a 5 ETH floor, Mapan has a unique way of capturing the hearts and minds of collectors.

But many people in the public still don’t understand what generative art even is. Mapan has a unique way of explaining the often misunderstood genre by boiling it down to a piece of paper, a crayon and a die.

“It can be really hard to explain but usually the way I explain is to put away the code, put away the blockchain, put away everything. Just take a piece of paper, a crayon and dice. Imagine drawing two by two boxes on that paper, so four boxes total. You then throw the dice — if the roll shows up as a three or below, you draw a square; if the dice shows four or above, you draw a circle into one of the boxes.

“You just made an algorithm; you just made a set of rules and introduced some randomness in there. That’s basically what generative art is, you build a set of rules, an algorithm and then introduce randomness. Then you try to control that part of the space.

Strands of Solitude #010 by William Mapan
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‘AI has killed the industry’: EasyTranslate boss on adapting to change

The launch of generative AI products over the past nine months has the world talking about how it will change the future. Many are frightened. Others are excited about the opportunity.

A report last month from Next Move Strategy Consulting predicts the AI industry will grow 20x in the next seven years, creating a $2 trillion business, up from its current value of $100 billion. It might sound like wild hype, but other analysts from McKinsey, Morgan Stanley and BlackRock all map out a similar trajectory. AI is here to stay, and a lot of human lives will be upended. But it’s also the chance of a lifetime.

Frederik Pedersen, the co-founder of Danish AI company EasyTranslate and son of one of Denmark’s most famous men, is approaching the future head-on.

“I have been saying for a long time that translation is dead and AI has killed the industry as we know it, but that hasn’t gone down particularly well with my competitors. Now, however, those same people are listening and are realising that they may be too late if they want to transform their business.”

It’s not easy to be the child of a powerful person, as has been recently and brilliantly illustrated by the TV series Succession. If there’s a Logan Roy in the family, it’s difficult for the child to be their own person.

Frederik Pederson knows how to pivot
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Token2049 captivates Singapore, Huobi rebrands on 10th Anniversary: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

Token 2049, one of the largest crypto conferences of the year, attracted a record 10,000 attendees, 300 speakers and 5,000 companies during the two-day event in Singapore.

From Sept. 13–14, attendees entering the majestic Marina Bay Sands Convention Expo and Center were greeted by the energetic beats from the Polyhedra DJ, then to a hall of booths showcasing the latest innovation in the blockchain industry. Aside from the main show, over 400 side events took place this year.

Among the biggest announcements during the event, KXVC, a subsidiary of Kasikornbank, the largest bank in Thailand with 20 million customers, launched a $100 million fund dedicated to Web3, AI and deep tech firms based in Southeast Asia. KXVC wrote:

“For Web3, KXVC targets Web3 infrastructures, nodes validators, RPC providers, middlewares, modularity technologies, privacy, ZKP, wallets, alternative L1/L2s, shared securities, LsdFi and consumerization of NFTs.”

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