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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7718
JPY
USD
107.32
GBP
USD
0.6125
CAD
USD
1.0974
INR
USD
60.919

Rates may not be current.