Justice Department hires expert counsel to evaluate company compliance programs

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the hiring of Hui Chen as a “full-time compliance expert”. In this role, Ms. Chen will be tasked with assessing the compliance programs of companies under DOJ investigation. This information will aid prosecutors weighing criminal charges of companies and individuals, including any remedial compliance measures. As you may recall, Ripple agreed to resolve a DOJ criminal investigation in exchange for a settlement agreement which called for a lengthy series of remedial compliance measures.

According to the DOJ, the hiring of Ms. Chen serves to indicate how serious the Justice Department is taking compliance. (As if the bitcoin community needed a reminder.) Officials, however, were quick to emphasize that a compliance program review is but one of several factors prosecutors will consider. This makes sense. FinCEN, which regulates bitcoin MSBs and conducted the parallel civil enforcement investigation of Ripple, considers multiple factors, including the violations themselves (i.e. volume, severity, time period, etc.); any corrective action undertaken by the institution; self-reporting efforts; level of cooperation with regulators; and, any past history of regulatory exams and prior violations.

It’s unlikely any of these individual factors will be cast aside anytime soon. However, the DOJ has signaled its intention to scrutinize how seriously companies take their compliance obligations, and to what degree the circumstances they find themselves are of their own making. Ms. Chen will, in the words of the DOJ, determine whether a company’s compliance program is “thoughtfully designed and sufficiently resourced, or essentially window dressing”. Now might be a good time to ask yourself which description applies to your compliance program.

Joe Ciccolo is the President of BitAML, a bitcoin compliance company helping BTM operators, exchanges and trading platforms comply with FinCEN and state regulations. Joe is a seasoned AML expert having worked for both large and mid-sized financial institutions before defecting from legacy banking. He can be reached anytime at [email protected].

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Since its inception, digital currencies like Bitcoin and digital finance have troubled governments and regulators across the globe. Some countries have chosen to classify these digital assets as legally recognized currencies because of their use by consumers, while other nations have chosen treat them as an illicit tool and banned their use outright. The United States is no exception to this legal scrutiny: the Internal Revenue Service has deemed Bitcoin is property, Obama released an executive order earlier this year allowing the government to seize digital currency without prior notice or due process, and most recently, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commision (CFTC) issued a statement that Bitcoin is indeed a commodity. This new decree is causing the legal teams of every major exchange in the space to scramble for regulatory compliance, lest they be forced to close doors like the unfortunate California based exchange Derivabit/Coinflip. One such firm has patiently awaited legal clarity regarding financial compliance and is preparing to go live.

Alt-Options is a Boston-based financial services company that offers a platform to trade Bitcoin derivatives in order to hedge risk and speculate efficiently. Their advance trading platform allows for scalability, as their exchange is not limited to a single derivative product or digital currency; additionally, their website is available in both English and Chinese Mandarin. The company has just released their public beta for paper trading and is filing paperwork to be compliant with the recent change in CFTC regulations.

Mining and Bitcoin storage is a risky venture due to price volatility. A financial option offers alternatives to miners selling their holdings by using the AOEX platform to either mitigate risk or gain extra income from selling contracts. Additionally, one can lock in the price they wish to buy or sell Bitcoin for a small premium. The AOEX platform attempts to mitigate price risk for its users in the safest way possible, by offering a wallet service that will be insured up to $250,000.


Likewise, the Alt-Options updated platform caters to the needs of seasoned option traders. A new, robust analyzer engine allows traders to back test their option trading strategy and related risk without committing to any positions. The P&L (profit and loss) graph and scenario analysis give user a clear expectation of their potential earning/loss from each potential trade.

Analytics Page Includes:

• Advanced profit and loss graph
• Sensitivity analysis on expiration date & underlying
• Real time portfolio Greeks & risk analysis
• Strategy analyzer (multi-leg positions)

Source: Alt-Options

Alt-Options is working with several partners in the Bitcoin space to hold a paper (mock) trading competition to test their platform. A number of organizations such as the College Cryptocurrency Network and notable universities (Boston University, Yale, Carnegie Mellon) have already signed up for this event to compete alongside professional traders. Participation is completely free and top winners will receive cash and other prizes. The competition will be held during the first week of October more info can be found here.

Sign up for Alt-Options Bitcoin Trading today.

*Content Provided and Co Authored By Carole Anne Vetter

Bitcoin has brought with it a plethora of new terminology. Not too long ago, when someone said “hash”, mathematics was not the first thought to enter most people’s minds.

The collapse of Mt. Gox in 2014 brought about the term “Gox’ed”. Millions of dollars’ worth of Bitcoin (not so?) magically disappearing and reappearing in “old wallets” enraged thousands of people.

Protection by bankruptcy filings, lack of a common definition of what type of asset Bitcoins were, and shear geological distance made the situation even more frustrating for people that had placed their life’s savings in the hands of the French born 30 year old Mr. Karpeles.

Some investors even went as far to fly to Japan to and protest the disappearance of their investment outside the office of Mark Karpeles and his, at one time the largest, Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange.

It would appear now, to be Gox’ed means to be misled, spoofed, and flat out lied to and robbed in the fantastical way.

Some estimations place the missing Bitcoin from Mt. Gox as high as 7% of the total Bitcoins in existence. Hundreds of millions of dollars surly found its way somewhere and someone does know the answers to the question of “where did it all go?”

Finally an arrest was made and the glimmer of hope for answers is finally looming on the horizon.

The impact of the collapse of Mt. Gox was greater than just the tragic losses investors suffered. It, along with the numerous other alleged hacks, glitches, and unexplained “magic” events leaving common people holding the bag, has cast a great shadow of distrust onto the entire industry.

Events like this prosecution and forth coming sentencing are a great sight for honest people. I hope the term Gox’ed gets further defined as paying the price for an attempt of theft in such a grand scale.

Many honest people would like to see the “You got Gox’ed” phrase be re-coined to mean “justice, however long it takes, will be served.” In history, time has had a way of sifting out the evil doers.

Unfortunately, Japanese courts have now ruled against a man seeking compensation over lost Bitcoins, stating the digital currency cannot be owned.

The Tokyo District Court said Bitcoin was “not subject to ownership,” effectively dismissing the lawsuit seeking repayment.

Judge Masumi Kurachi ruled that Japanese law only allowed for proprietorship of tangible entities that occupy space and which allow for exclusive control.

As such, Bitcoin could not be owned. An example the judge gave was that transactions between users must involve a third party and therefore exclusive control over Bitcoins was not possible.

This could be what ultimately ends up being the case for the Mt Gox debacle if left to the Japanese courts to decide, so brace yourself because this may just be the price we pay to have freedom of controls in our financial systems.

Welcome to the “Wild, Wild West” of digital currency!!