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George Bush’s Brother Got $300K for Meeting With OneCoin’s ‘Cryptoqueen’


Neil Bush is alleged to have received $300,000 to attend a meeting involving OneCoin co-founder and current fugitive Ruja Ignatova, known as the “Cryptoqueen.”

As Law360 reported on Nov. 15, testimony in a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York contained allegations against Neil Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of the late President George H.W. Bush.

Sibling entanglements

As Cointelegraph has reported, OneCoin is among the crypto industry’s most infamous alleged exit scams. Founded in 2014, the Bulgaria-based firm remains fully operational to date despite investigators’ allegations that it raised 4 billion euro ($4.4 billion) in a Ponzi scheme.

“Cryptoqueen” Ignatova is the sister of OneCoin co-founder Konstantin Ignatov, who signed a guilty plea in connection with the alleged fraud on Oct. 4 and now faces up to 90 years in jail.

Ignatova has been indicted on charges of money laundering and fraud but remains on the run. 

The Bush connection 

As Law360 reports, former Lock Lorde LLP attorney Mark Scott is currently standing trial for allegedly conspiring with Ignatova and her brother on OneCoin. He maintains that he believed the scheme was legal.

Neil Bush, a businessman, had been interviewed by the FBI due to his role as a board member of Hoifu Energy, which is owned by wealthy Chinese businessman Dr. Hui Chi Ming. 

One of Dr. Ming’s companies is alleged to have pursued a $60 million loan to buy an African oil field and Scott’s counsel has subsequently argued that Bush’s indirect involvement with the deal contributed to Scott’s feeling confident enough to transact with those behind it.

The oil field deal was to be financed in cash and “a very large portion of the purchase price” in OneCoin. Details of the FBI’s interview with Bush were heard at the trial, with Garvin stating:

“Bush recalled that the head of Hoifu Energy, Dr. Hui Chi Ming, received a bunch of cryptocurrency for an oil deal in Madagascar. Bush had a residual interest in the cryptocurrency from the oil deal. Bush met the woman from the cryptocurrency company, Ruja Ignatova, in Hong Kong with Dr. Hui.”

At the trial, Judge Ramos is reported to have asked Scott’s counsel David Garvin:

“So, there was an actual meeting with Ms. Ignatova, Mr. Bush and Mr. Hui?”

Garvin affirmed the meeting, noting that Bush was paid $300,000 for his participation. 

The FBI’s report allegedly noted that Hui had pledged Bush 10% of the sale if Hui was able to sell the cryptocurrency — yet the deal ultimately fell apart.

The judge quashed calls for Bush himself to testify before the court, heeding the argument made by Bush’s counsel that it would not be relevant, given that Bush was not on the board of the specific Hui company involved in the sale. The judge further concurred that Bush’s testimony would not add anything further to what was already included in the FBI’s report. 

Ignatova remains at large

As reported, Ignatov testified on Nov. 6 that after his sister fled, the security personnel who accompanied her told him that she had met with Russian speakers. This has led investigative journalists to subsequently allege that she has the support and protection of an unnamed “rich and powerful” Russian person.





Source Cointelegraph

Preview of Today’s SEC Meeting on Harmonizing Securities Exemptions


Today, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is hosting two meetings of the investor advisory committee. The second of these is scheduled to start at 1:00 PM EST and will deal with the SEC’s earlier request for comment on harmonization of securities exemptions.

The trouble with exemptions

The current schema of exemptions is overgrown, with the adoption of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012 adding complications that are still being threshed out. The act legalized crowdfunding from non-accredited investors and expanded the exemptions listed under Regulation A, the updated version of which is often called Regulation A+.

While the intention behind the JOBS act was to make capital formation simpler for early-stage businesses by saving them from the reporting duties of larger initial public offerings (IPOs), the result can be tricky to navigate. Some offerings struggle to determine which exemption they fall under.

What does this mean for crypto?

The JOBS Act had a major impact on tech firms at large looking to go public. Though the act aimed to incentivize smaller firms to open up to investors earlier, some commentators believe that the shift in securities policy contributed to the rise in tech unicorn IPOs over the past seven years.

In the crypto space, many initial coin offerings (ICOs) have sought to qualify under SEC exemptions, particularly Form D. 2018, in particular, saw a massive rise in such exemptions.

In October, the SEC filed an emergency action against Telegram, citing its offering of GRAM tokens valued at $1.7 billion dollars to U.S. investors as an unregistered securities offering. A controversial element to this decision was the fact that Telegram had filed for Form D exemption from registration a year and a half before the decision.

A simplification of U.S. securities offering exemptions would have major implications for crypto companies in general and ICOs in particular.

What to expect today

The speakers at today’s meeting come have a range of viewpoints on the matter. Expect the day to be a push-and-pull between the classic concerns of investor protections and reduced regulations. One argument is that exemptions permit companies to operate without accountability to their investors, while another says that they help businesses grow and open up opportunities to investors.

Sara Hanks, founder and CEO of compliance firm CrowdCheck and former SEC employee, told Cointelegraph that she had long been opposed to the SEC’s attempts to regulate offers in general. In her view, their duty should be to regulate sales.

Crowdcheck is in an interesting position, as the company began operations in 2013, as many of these changes to offerings were beginning to take effect. When asked how much what her company does has changed in that timeframe her response was immediate: “Oh, enormously.” 

Hanks elaborated that the timeline in which crowdfunding exemptions came into play and Regulation A exemptions were expanded meant that many companies were using the updated Reg. A to file crowdfunding exemptions — a legal workaround that ended up working.

Hanks’ experience of the SEC’s work to expand exemptions had largely been positive, and her letter to the SEC in advance of today’s meeting indicates optimism that these exemptions allow main-street investors to build wealth. Speaking with Cointelegraph, she suggested a system by which less wealthy investors could see some of the privileges of accredited investors if they are receiving financial counsel from an accredited source.

Seemingly even more interested in loosening regulation, Republican Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee Patrick McHenry wrote a response to the SEC’s concept release encouraging the growth of crowdfunding as a means of forming capital.

From the opposite side of the spectrum, a speaker like Tyler Gellasch, executive director of Healthy Markets, expressed opposition to the number of exemptions in general. In his advance comments to the SEC, he wrote:

“These changes have siphoned off trillions of dollars in capital from the well-regulated public markets and into the far-less-regulated ‘private’ markets.”

Gellasch was unavailable for comment as of press time.





Source Cointelegraph

Libra Association Holds Inaugural Meeting, Forms Board


The Libra Association, the governing body of Facebook’s proposed stablecoin, held its inaugural meeting today in Geneva, Switzerland. 

According to a report from Reuters on Oct. 14, the consortium reaffirmed their interest in creating a payments-oriented stablecoin that would be balanced by a basked of various, purportedly stable fiat currencies. 

Libra Association sets rules for governance

In addition to explicitly stating their interest in the project, the consortium’s 21 members also formed a five-member board and agreed to interim articles of association which, according to Swiss law, must describe how the organization will be governed. 

Most major decisions will reportedly require a majority vote of the ruling council, while proposed changes to membership or management of the reserve must pass by a two-thirds majority.

The five-member board comprises of Facebook’s David Marcus, representatives from non-profit Kiva Microfunds, PayU, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Xapo Holdings Limited.

Backers flee Libra Association

Today’s meeting in Geneva follows a spate of withdrawals from former consortium members. Earlier today, Booking Holdings, the owner of travel sites booking.com, priceline.com, agoda.com and Kayak, withdrew from the Libra Association.

Other major payments- and commerce-related firms have left the association, including Mastercard, Visa, eBay, Stripe and PayPal. According to Reuters, the only remaining payments firm in the Libra Association is Netherlands-based PayU, which purportedly does not operate in the United States, Canada and many areas in Africa and the Middle East.

Cause for optimism?

The Libra Association is apparently remaining optimistic about going ahead with the project. Dante Disparte, the head of policy and communications at Libra Association, told Reuters that the recent flight of major backers is “a correction; it’s not a setback.” However, Disparte further admitted that the coin could face delays as regulators continue to scrutinize the project. 

Earlier today, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the firms left Libra because it was not “up to par” with American Anti-Money Laundering standards. Mnuchin added that, if the project is not compliant when it launches, it could result in action from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is under the purview of the Treasury. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is slated to testify about the project before the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee at a hearing entitled “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors.”





Source Cointelegraph

US FDA to Hold Meeting on Blockchain and AI in Food Traceability


The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding a public meeting to discuss a new initative called “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety.”

In an announcement on Sept. 17, the FDA said the consultation with international stakeholders — designed to debate public health challenges and the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act — will take place on Oct. 21.

Specifically, the FDA intends to establish “a more digital, traceable, and safer system” to protect consumers from contaminated food.

Efficient tracking 

The initiative proposes to deploy technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and sensors to develop a digital system so users can trace the source of food products and assess associated risks.

The new approach was initially announced in late April by Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas. According to the announcement, emerging technologies could greatly reduce the time needed to trace the origin of contaminated food and respond to public health risks.

Industry players focusing on blockchain

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform and improve the food industry as many retailers and producers are beginning to apply it. Just recently, Nestlé said it had to adopt a “startup mindset” in order to push ahead with its challenging blockchain venture.

This summer, tech giant Oracle and the World Bee Project revealed the development of a blockchain-based sustainability assurance system for the honey supply chain. In addition to blockchain technology, BeeMark also plans to make use of data science to monitor environmental factors related to bees’ surroundings.

Recent research conducted by University College London suggested that the grocery sector is currently responsible for nearly half of all distributed ledger technology-based supply chain projects.





Source Cointelegraph

Zuckerberg Continues Tour of DC With Unproductive Meeting With Senator


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is continuing to meet policymakers in Washington, D.C. to discuss “future internet regulations” — most recently with Senator Josh Hawley.

“A frank conversation”

On the afternoon of Sept. 19, Sen. Hawley wrote on Twitter:

“Just finished meeting with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Had a frank conversation. Challenged him to do two things to show FB is serious about bias, privacy & competition.”

Hawley has asked Zuckerberg to consider selling WhatsApp and Instagram, and to submit to an independent, third-party audit on censorship.

According to Sen. Hawley, the executive had a clear and short answer to both requests: no.

Zuckerberg questioned by Democratic lawmakers

Earlier on Sept. 19, Cointelegraph reported that Zuckerberg had dinner with a handful of U.S. lawmakers, where he faced intense scrutiny over Libra.

Democratic Senator Mark R. Warner said Zuckerberg heard “consistent concerns about privacy, concerns around vile content and how it came to be dealt with.”





Source Cointelegraph