News / Economy

2 Bitcoin Exchange Operators Charged in Money-Laundering Scheme

Mock Bitcoins are displayed on a table in an illustration picture taken in Berlin, Jan. 7, 2014.
Mock Bitcoins are displayed on a table in an illustration picture taken in Berlin, Jan. 7, 2014.
Reuters
Two men who operate bitcoin exchange businesses have been charged with money laundering for helping drug merchants exchange $1 million in cash for bitcoins, the digital currency, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.
 
Federal prosecutors in New York announced charges against Charlie Shrem and Robert Faiella, both operators of bitcoin exchange businesses, for attempting to sell $1 million in the digital currency to users of the underground black market website Silk Road, which was shut down by authorities in September.
 
According to the charging document, Shrem, 24, chief executive officer of the exchange BitInstant.com, changed cash into bitcoins for Faiella, 52, who ran an underground bitcoin exchange through the username BTCKing on Silk Road's website. The criminal complaint says that Shrem, in addition to knowing that Faiella's business was funneling money into Silk Road, also used Silk Road himself to buy drugs.
 
The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan said in a statement that authorities arrested Shrem on Sunday at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Faiella was arrested on Monday at his home in Cape Coral, Florida.
 
The tech investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss invested $1.5 million in BitInstant last year. A spokeswoman for their firm, Winklevoss Capital, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
The case against Shrem is likely to deal a blow to the burgeoning community of bitcoin businesses because Shrem is a high-profile advocate for the technology. In addition to running BitInstant, he is vice president of the main bitcoin-focused trade group, the Bitcoin Foundation, according to the foundation's website and Shrem's LinkedIn profile.
 
A spokeswoman for the foundation declined to immediately comment on Shrem's arrest.
 
Shrem and Faiella were charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. A spokeswoman for Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney  for Manhattan, said there was no information about legal representation available for either of the two men, who are expected to appear in court in New York and Florida. respectively.
 
Shrem has a home address in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
 
According to the charges, Faiella, going by “BTCKing” online, sold bitcoins to Silk Road users and passed on purchase orders he received from the site to Shrem, who filled them, transferring funds to Faiella's account at another bitcoin exchange service based in Japan.
 
The Japan-based exchange business is not named. One of the largest bitcoin exchanges in the world, MtGox, is based in Japan.
 
The charging document says that Shrem, who also ran BitInstant's compliance program for a little under two years, failed to report suspicious activity to regulators “with respect to numerous Bitcoin purchases” Faiella made from BitInstant.
 
Shrem's lawyer, Keith Miller at Perkins Coie in New York, was not immediately available for comment
 
Bitcoin is a digital currency whose value fluctuates according to demand by users. It is currently trading on MtGox at a level of $985 per unit. Users can transfer bitcoins to each other over the internet and store the currency in digital “wallets.”

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9211
JPY
USD
119.18
GBP
USD
0.6722
CAD
USD
1.2509
INR
USD
62.518

Rates may not be current.