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Tether’s general counsel doubles down on support for Peter McCormack

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Stuart Hoegner, general counsel for Tether and cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, is pushing back against claims the stablecoin operator has abandoned podcaster Peter McCormack in his lawsuit against Craig Wright, the Australian national claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

In an Oct. 24 tweet from Hoegner, the general counsel called a recent article from crypto media platform Coingeek which stated Tether had pulled funding from McCormack in his legal battle against Wright “a lie.” Coingeek is owned by Calvin Ayre, a high-profile supporter of Wright who backs his claims that Wright is the creator of Bitcoin (BTC).

“Tether supports Peter McCormack and believes he’s in the right,” said Hoegner.

In April 2019, Wright filed a libel claim against McCormack in the U.K. over McCormack accusing the Australian national of fraud and falsely claiming to be Satoshi. Hoegner said at the time that Tether would “stand behind” the What Bitcoin Did podcaster in his defense against Wright, which hinted at financial support.

However, in response to Hoegner’s denial, Ayre is not backing down.

“I was forwarded a copy of the letter from Peter’s lawyer saying he wants to settle because his funding was cut,” said Ayre on Twitter. “Tether said they were the ones funding him so this has to mean Tether cut funding. If Tether is still funding this makes no sense.”

He continued by promoting Bitcoin SV (BSV), for which both Ayre and Wright are well known proponents:

“My conclusion is that Tether executives know already that Craig is Satoshi and this is all just a big game to keep their scams alive. The smart play would be to move Tether to BSV and abandon BTC.”

Wright has filed several defamation suits against perceived rivals in the crypto industry. In August, he filed a libel suit against Bitcoin Cash (BCH) proponent Roger Ver in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda. This followed The High Court of England dismissing a similar suit Wright filed against Ver in 2019. However, in April he also abandoned a $125,000 libel suit against Blockstream CEO Adam Back, agreeing to reimburse legal fees.





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ICO issuer charged with fraud by SEC for selling unregistered security

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The United States Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, has charged a cryptocurrency issuer for “making materially false and misleading statements” in connection with an unregistered security offering conducted between August 2017 and January 2018, offering further evidence that regulators were still targeting initial coin offerings from the last major market mania. 

Loci Inc., the platform behind LOCIcoin, and CEO John Wise were formally charged on Tuesday. The SEC claims that Loci and Wise misled investors about the company’s revenues, employee numbers and user base during the $7.6 million crowdsale. The regulator also alleges that Wise misused $38,163 in investor proceeds for personal expenses.

“Loci and its CEO misled investors regarding critical aspects of Loci’s business,” said Kristina Littman, the head of the SEC Enforcement Division’s cyber unit, adding:

“Investors in digital asset securities are entitled to truthful information and fulsome disclosures so they can make informed investment decisions.”

The order also requires that Loci and Wise pay a $7.6 million civil penalty for their transgressions.

Handing out penalties to cryptocurrency businesses is nothing new for U.S. authorities. Regulators from the SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network have imposed fines of more than $2.5 billion on cryptocurrency-related businesses since 2014, underscoring the murky regulatory climate surrounding digital assets.

Elliptic Enterprises, a blockchain analytics firm headquartered in the United Kingdom, reported Tuesday that the $2.5 billion in penalties covered a broad range of infractions, including fraud, the selling of unregistered securities and a failure to uphold Anti-Money Laundering regulations.

The SEC accounted for the lion’s share of the penalties at $1.69 billion. The CFTC imposed penalties of $624 million and FinCEN slapped crypto businesses with $183 million in fines. The Office of Foreign Asset Control handed out the smallest fines among the regulators at $606,000.

Cryptocurrencies have been described by many as the wild west of finance. Tens of thousands of crypto-centric projects have launched in the wake of Bitcoin’s genesis block in early 2009. Many of these companies got their start in 2017 during the height of the initial coin offering boom.

Related: With US regulators handing out $2.5B in fines since 2014, crypto is not the ‘wild west’ of finance

ICOs allowed crypto startups to raise millions of dollars without having to meet the stringent regulations of more traditional security offerings. ICO funding reached the tens of billions in 2017 and 2018 combined, attracting unwanted attention from securities regulators. The SEC successfully charged the founders of several crypto companies, which effectively put an end to the mania — in the United States, at least.