Mt. Gox Chief Denies Stealing $500 Million In Bitcoin As Trial Starts

Two-and-a-half years after the collapse of Mt. Gox ushered in a multi-year bear market in the world of digital currencies, the trial of former Gox chief executive officer Mark Karpeles began Tuesday in Tokyo.  Karpeles pleaded “not guilty” to charges of embezzlement and fraud stemming from the collapse of what was once the world’s most-active platform for buying and selling digital currencies. Some 850,000 bitcoins – then worth around half a billion U.S. dollars – were stolen in the hack, which was disclosed in February 2014, along with $28 million in cash from the exchange’s bank accounts, according to Reuters.

“The 32-year-old chief executive of defunct Mt. Gox pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges relating to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of bitcoins and cash from what was once the world’s biggest bitcoin exchange.

 

French national Mark Karpeles filed the plea in response to charges of embezzlement and data manipulation at the Tokyo District Court, according to a pool report for foreign journalists.”

Karpeles was indicted for transferring 341 million yen ($3 million) from a Mt. Gox account holding customer funds to an account in his name during September to December 2013. The prosecution also alleged Karpeles boosted the balance of an account in his name in Mt. Gox’s trading system.

In its opening statement to the court, Karpeles’ defense team did not dispute that the transfers took place, but denied they amounted to embezzlement. Karpeles told the court he was an information technology engineer.

While the Gox bankruptcy badly damaged the public’s perception of digital currencies – particularly among risk-averse Japanese investors – it did spur Japanese lawmakers to develop a legal framework that officially recognizes digital currencies as legal, regulated assets. It also created a system for grating licenses to digital currency exchanges. Japan this year became the first country to regulate exchanges at the national level, part of a government effort to reestablish its lost influence over the crypto market.

That framework, passed into law earlier this year, officially took effect in April and presaged the entrance of Japanese banks into the digital currencies marketplace.

* * *

However, institutional investors in Japan remain wary, say those running virtual currency exchanges in Tokyo. Only 4 percent of large and mid-sized Japanese firms plan to use bitcoin in the near to medium term, showed a Reuters poll last month.

Karpeles, who disappeared from public view shortly after Gox’s collapse, was rumored to have been the target of a super subpoena, preventing him from discussing Gox or the pending case against him.
But now that the trial is underway, the public may soon receive some long-awaited answers about the hack. Namely: How did hackers infiltrate Mt. Gox? Exactly how long did Karpeles wait to disclose the theft to the public. Mt. Gox subsequently said it had found 200,000 of the missing bitcoins – where were they, who found them, and how?

And, most importantly: Were any Mt. Gox employees complicit in the theft?
 

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CFPB Makes It Easier For Customers To Sue Banks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just made it easier for ordinary citizens to sue banks by restricting how they can use mandatory arbitration to block class-action lawsuits, according to Bloomberg. But the decision – inspired by a 2015 investigative series in the New York Times about how US companies, particularly credit card companies and payday lenders, abuse the practice – likely won’t stay on the books for long. As the LA Times writes:

It’s all but certain that Republican lawmakers in control of the House and Senate will move quickly to overturn the rule as part of their ongoing efforts to cripple the consumer-watchdog agency and create a more business-friendly regulatory landscape.”

Clauses requiring arbitration to settle disputes are inserted routinely in contracts for credit cards, payday loans and other financial products. They typically prevent consumers from filing lawsuits or banding together in class actions.

“Arbitration clauses in contracts for products like bank accounts and credit cards make it nearly impossible for people to take companies to court when things go wrong,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

 

“These clauses allow companies to avoid accountability by blocking group lawsuits and forcing people to go it alone or give up. Our new rule will stop companies from sidestepping the courts and ensure that people who are harmed together can take action together.”

From the time they formally receive the ruling, lawmakers have 60 legislative days to overturn the bureau’s decision. Republicans have been using the Congressional Review Act, a little-known provision, to undo more than a dozen Obama-era regulations during the closing days of his presidency, including the CFPB’s plans to implement tougher standards for prepaid debit cards.

“As a matter of principle, policy and process, this anti-consumer rule should be thoroughly rejected by Congress,” Representative Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who leads the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement.

Congress isn’t the only body that’s skeptical of the ruling: In an unusual move, the head of a key banking regulator wrote to Cordray to raise concerns about it. Keith Noreika, the acting Comptroller of the Currency, asked that the CFPB share data used to develop its arbitration rule, according to a letter dated Monday that was obtained by Bloomberg.

“We would like to work with you and your staff to address the potential safety and soundness implications of the CFPB’s arbitration proposal,” Noreika said in the letter. “That is why I am requesting the CFPB share its data.”

Noreika cited a section of the Dodd-Frank Act that gives the Financial Stability Oversight Council – a panel of regulators headed by the Treasury secretary – power to set aside any CFPB rule that can be shown to put the safety of the wider financial system at risk.

Our new rule ensures that groups of people harmed by the same financial products can take action together. pic.twitter.com/rXYzHz67ea

— consumerfinance.gov (@CFPB) July 10, 2017

However, studying the fairness of arbitration clauses appears to be well within the bureau’s remit: Dodd-Frank says the CFPB “may prohibit or impose conditions or limitations on the use” of arbitration clauses if it determines that restricting such provisions “is in the public interest and for the protection of consumers,” according to the LA Times.

During its study, the CFPB found that hundreds of millions of contracts include arbitration provisions and that companies have used the clauses to keep fights out of court almost two-thirds of the time. Very few consumers even consider bringing individual actions against financial-service providers in court or in arbitration.

Despite the rule’s near-certain erasure, Christine Hines, legislative director for the National Assn. of Consumer Advocates, told the LA Times that the CFPB isn’t thumbing its nose at Republican lawmakers who have insisted for years that the agency is a rabid regulatory pit bull in need of either a very short leash or a trip to a farm.

“The agency has to continue doing its job,” she said, “even though there are very anti-consumer people in power.”

Other consumer advocates echoed that sentiment.

 

“The rule will help to combat the culture of companies profiting from charging illegal fees and committing other crimes against their customers,” said Rohit Chopra, senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America.

 

Said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform: “The consumer agency’s rule will stop Wall Street and predatory lenders from ripping people off with impunity, and make markets fairer and safer for ordinary Americans.”

The new rule will cover new agreements for products such as credit cards, auto loans, credit reports and even mobile phone services that provide third-party billing. Companies can still include arbitration clauses in contracts, but they must state that those can’t be used to stop individual consumers from joining class-action cases.

According to Bloomberg, it is also possible that industry groups will sue to overturn the CFPB rule. Groups including the US Chamber of Commerce have said arbitration is a valuable tool to prevent frivolous, expensive lawsuits that often don’t do much to benefit borrowers. Meanwhile, consumer advocates say restricting arbitration clauses will deter bad actors and force companies to reconsider certain activities because consumers will be more inclined to sue.

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Former DOJ Official: Trump Jr. Didn’t Commit a Crime

 

Content originally published at iBankCoin.com

Unfortunately, the smoking gun evidence of Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer isn’t a crime, according to Robert Driscoll, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

This man’s integrity and mastery of the law cannot and will not be repudiated. All of you crackpot internet lawyers need to shut up and take those nooses that were made for Trump Jr. and save them for Comey. More on that in a minute.

“I think people will make hay over the willingness to have the meeting. At the end of the day, it’s still very vague as to what statuary violations there would be. Collusion, in and of itself, isn’t a crime. There would need to be conspiracy to violate another law. And so this notion that there was a meeting, it may be politically unpalatable, but it’s certainly not a crime to say ‘ok I’ll listen.’ If you wanted to piece together a legal theory of criminal activity… I haven’t seen anything, other than esoteric campaign finance theories that don’t make a lot of sense.”

On the matter of Comey, inquiring minds want to know why he was seen walking into the NY Times building on June 22nd, 2017. The official story was Comey’s attendance of nice charity event. But that easily could’ve been arranged by the Times as a cover to meet with him.


Disgraced Former FBI Head, James Comey, heading into NY Times, most likely in tow with Rod Goldstone emails
 
While everyone is fixated on the contents of the Trump Jr. emails, which of course are important, I think more energy should be directed into finding out who leaked them. After all, these leaks are far more serious than the Wikileaks that the democrats bemoan over. They were used in an effort to derail a reviled and corrupt Presidential candidate, whereas these leaks are meant to destroy and take down a sitting President. The implications of the latter could have profound effects, including loss of life, should the schemes bear any fruit.

Enter Ben Wittes, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, a close friend of James Comey.

Shortly after Comey got fired, Wittes told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Comey ‘had a story to tell’ and that the President should be scared.

I want you to pay attention to the following timeline, illustrated beautifully by Zerohedge.

On May 16th, Wittes tweeted this, just before the contents of Comey’s memo contents were leaked to the NY Times.

tick tick tick tick tick tick

— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) May 16, 2017

He did it again on May 18th, just before a story broke that said Comey asked AG Sessions to not leave him alone with Trump.

By the twitching of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

tick tick tick tick tick tick tick

— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) May 18, 2017

Then on June 23rd, just 1 day after Comey was seen entering the NY Times building, Wittes, aka Mr. Tick, tweeted this gem.

TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK pic.twitter.com/yuL0o0TBbT

— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) June 23, 2017

Today, following Trump Jr. published the Goldstone emails, Wittes gloated with a “Boom” tweet.

BOOM!https://t.co/Mx3PoWvUpE pic.twitter.com/NrcxYzyUNz

— Benjamin Wittes (@benjaminwittes) July 11, 2017

Perhaps he’s just a shitposter and this is all one big odd coincidence. Or, on the maniacal side, he’s a sociopath who cannot help but attract attention to himself by blurting out cryptic messages to his sycophantic fans regarding illegal intelligence leaks.

Your call.

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The Most And Least Popular U.S. Senators

According to a new poll by Morning Consult, the most popular senator in the U.S. is independent and once presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

As Statista’s Martin Armstrong points out, voters in his state of Vermont have given him a net approval rating of 54 percent – 75 percent saying they approve of the job he is doing, 21 percent saying they disapprove.

Infographic: The Most and Least Popular U.S. Senators | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

At the other end of the scale is Republican Jeff Flake, who with 37 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval is sitting on a minus 8 percent net rate in Arizona.

The Grand Canyon State is generally unhappy with its Senators – John McCain has a net rating of minus 4 percent.

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