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Brazil Regulator Votes to Continue Probe Into Banks’ Rejection of Crypto Firms

Brazil’s biggest private banks are not out of the woods yet.

On Wednesday, Brazil’s antitrust watchdog, the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), voted to continue its investigation of banks who denied financial services to crypto brokers in alleged violation of Brazilian competition law. 

CADE’s nearly two-year-old inquiry into Itaú Unibanco, Banco do Brasil, Santander, Inter, Bradesco and Sicredi now returns to the General Superintendency for further review, as per the decision by CADE’s chief tribunal. Those six banks comprise the lion’s share of Brazil’s banking sector.

The ruling, made by a seven-member tribunal, reopens the possibility that these powerhouse banks – they held over 80% of deposit market share during the time in question – could face eventual sanctions and even be forced to provide financial services to crypto brokers.

Such an outcome appeared unlikely as recently as last week, after the General Superintendency, CADE’s investigative wing, tried to close the case on technical grounds. But on May 13, Counselor Lenisa Rodrigues Prado called upon CADE to reopen its investigation.

In Prado’s view, these banks failed to give reasonable justification for shutting out crypto brokers. She found “significant evidence” that they had violated Brazilian laws protecting market competition and called upon CADE to initiate a sanctions inquiry.

Fernando de Magalhães Furlan, a former CADE official who leads the Brazilian Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Association’s (ABCB) charge against the banks, said the ruling “is a victory to the Brazilian crypto sector. ABCB represents 39 crypto brokers, according to Furlan.


Crypto brokers and banks had been at loggerheads before CADE launched its probe in September 2018. Banks, weary of the legal grey zone that cryptocurrency trading inhabits in Brazil (and allegedly fearful cryptocurrency’s success would eat into their own) had begun shutting down crypto brokerage accounts.

Without brokerage accounts, exchanges such as Nox Bitcoin could not easily provide cash on and off ramps to their customers. Founder João Paulo Oliveira said Banco Bradesco closed his brokerage account.

Banco Bradesco declined to comment on CADE proceedings.

It was a pattern rippling across Brazil’s crypto landscape, said Furlan, who as CEO of ABCB first called for a CADE investigation in April 2018.

Furlan said the banks would swoop in and close accounts “without any justification whatsoever.” He said their collective cold shoulder was a broadside to Brazil’s growing crypto industry.

“No company, no enterprise can survive in capitalism without access to the financial system,” Furlan said. 


Itaú Unibanco denied allegations it acted anti-competitively.

Itaú “has always guided its commercial practices based on the defense of free initiative and competition, as well as the understanding that competition is positive not only for the financial system, but for the whole country,” a spokesperson told CoinDesk.

There does not appear to be any evidence the banks coordinated their decisions, Furlan said. A previous CADE official said none of them wielded individual market power, according to Furlan. These are usually two hallmarks of anti-competitive case law. 

Indeed, Furlan said, a different CADE official’s December 2019 attempt to drop the case partly rested on the banks’ individual inability to control the market.

Furlan said it was a distinction without a difference. Four of the banks involved in the inquiry rank among the five-largest in all of Brazil. CADE said that in 2017, a year before its own investigation began, the six banks together held over 80% of Brazilian deposits.

The other argument Furlan said the first CADE ruling drew from was the banks’ stated fear that crypto brokers would expose them to money laundering. 

Members of the crypto business landscape reject that claim.

“We do a better job in checking the legitimacy of the money we touch than banks and government agencies,” said Fabiano Dias, vice president of LATAM operations for the crypto payroll company Bitwage.

“For us crypto businesses, I know I can speak for our partners in Brazil on that too, we are confident in our [know-your-customer] procedures, making sure we are only enabling legit professionals, helping them to add efficiency to their payments and finances,” he said.

Furlan and ABCB appealed the decision. The appeal was denied. But on May 13, Prado said money laundering was not a good enough reason to lock out the crypto brokers in her call to continue the inquiry.

Crypto’s nascency was actually an argument for letting such businesses in, she wrote.

“In order to avoid the risk of pushing independent crypto asset brokers into a ‘limbo’ of the financial system (which could even increase the risks related to money laundering), CADE must exercise its duty to protect competition in this growing market,” she wrote.

Next steps

Itaú, the second-largest bank in Brazil and the only one to respond to CoinDesk’s questions before Wednesday’s ruling, said it “remains confident that its conduct will be considered legal and valid.”

“If the investigation is reopened, the bank will continue to collaborate with CADE in the necessary clarifications,” an Itaú spokesperson said at the time (the spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment after the ruling).

Oliviera, the Brazilian exchange founder, thinks the sanctioning argument only failed previously because its proponent, ABCB, “was funded exclusively and controlled by” Atlas Quantum, an alleged crypto ponzi scheme.

(Furlan’s April 2018 letter to CADE highlights that Atlas, an ABCB member, was denied a bank account by Banco do Brasil).

“I do believe that relations between ABCB and Atlas were considered for CADE to have decided that there’s no competition conflict for banks to close bank accounts of crypto business,” Oliviera said. 

Furlan told CoinDesk that ABCB has 39 members but acknowledged that the organization “has not been very active” since its main contributor ran into regulatory trouble with Brazil’s SEC. 

UPDATE (May 20, 18:15 UTC): Brazil’s antitrust regulator voted Wednesday to continue its investigation of local banks for allegedly blocking crypto firms’ access to financial services.

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News Popular Resistance

Protest Continue At The Smithfield Foods Meat Factory

Saturday in Crete was the second round of drive–by protests against the lack of COVID–19 safety conditions at Smithfield Foods.

Protestors were seen donning signs down main street with sayings like “essential not disposable.”

The workers, experiencing a quick turnaround on Tuesday that didn’t give them the initial 2 week closure they were hoping to get.

“When are we going to stop? When 300 people are sick? Is that where the COVID is going to stop,” said Sheila Balbuena, whose parents are working at the plant.

“We would rather not eat meat for weeks or even months as long as everyone’s safe and the prices decrease,” said Yesenia Regalado, whose parents are working at the plant.

“I haven’t been able to hug my mom in the past two weeks because she’s worried she’s going to affect any of us if she has it, you know,” said Emmanuel Sanchez-Mora, whose parents are working at the plant.

Emmanuel Sanchez-Mora, a graduate from UNL, says it was the income his parents made from working at the plant that got him his degree.

“My parents personally are proud to be working at Smithfield. They’re thankful. I’ve heard my mother thank God a million times for that job…. We don’t want them to be affected, but we don’t want to be affected ourselves, and we don’t want our town to be affected. This town was built from Smithfield,” said Sanchez-Mora.

But, he, and others want to know when enough is enough.

“I think a fair outcome would be for them to quarantine our parents for at least two weeks, pay them for those two weeks, and let the curve flatten a little bit,” said Sanchez-Mora.

The fight still going strong while nearly 50 confirmed cases, all linked to the meat processing plant.

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Coindesk News

Market Wrap: Interest in Bitcoin Rises as Prices Near $10K, but Can It Continue?

The clock is ticking down to the expected halving event on Monday and bitcoin is capturing the interest of investors who may not normally follow the cryptocurrency markets.

At press time, bitcoin (BTC) was trading up less than 1 percent over 24 hours at $9,966 and above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, bullish technical indicators. The cryptocurrency has spent much of its U.S. trading hours with a $9,900 handle on spot exchanges like Coinbase, a small retreat after briefly breaking above the $10,000 barrier Thursday. 

Bitcoin trading on Coinbase since May 6
Source: TradingView

“Most of the people I know are buying bitcoin and gold as a hedge against global recession. Most likely this trend will continue to grow strong,” said Constantin Kogan, partner at crypto fund of funds BitBull Capital. 

A boost above the $10,000 price level is certainly a big draw if you are interested in bitcoin. What’s more, conversations about the bitcoin reward halving, expected Monday, May 11, have increased in the past week.  Kogan believes bitcoin prices can push up to as much as $12,000 before the halving, an every-four-years event that this time will lower bitcoin’s generation of new cryptocurrency from 12.5 to 6.25 BTC. 

Read More: Bitcoin Halving 2020 Explained

Additionally, investor Paul Tudor Jones II, who manages $38 billion in assets, published an outlook and change to one of his fund’s strategies to reflect trading in bitcoin futures on Thursday. 

“Paul Tudor Jones has written quite a knowledgeable piece on bitcoin. Adoption on Wall Street-fueled halving-FOMO is my bet,” said Henrik Kugelberg, a Sweden-based over-the-counter crypto trader. 

“It’s clearly lots of casual investors coming in and picking it up. I’m even getting friends and contacts asking me again,” said Chris Thomas, head of digital assets at Swissquote Bank.

However, in his note, Jones revealed his fund’s strategy is around bitcoin derivatives, likely on advanced futures platforms like CME, not purchasing spot bitcoin on exchanges like Coinbase. “We have set the initial maximum exposure guideline for purchasing bitcoin futures to a low single digit exposure percentage,” Jones wrote in his outlook titled “The Great Monetary Inflation.”

Bitcoin futures open interest the past month
Source: Skew

Indeed, derivatives such as futures are seeing an uptick, and Swissquote’s Thomas expects an interesting dynamic in the coming weeks. As more investors have conversations on bitcoin’s place in an uncertain global economy, professional traders active in the crypto derivatives market are hedging their bets with both futures and options.

Read More: The Men Who Stare at Charts

The crypto options market is experiencing record highs – over $1 billion – but there are more bearish bets in the form of put options than bullish calls. “Looking at bitcoin options we can see that puts are more expensive than calls,” said Thomas. “This implies that more people are picking up downside protection.”

“New money is driving us higher ahead of the halving and professionals will push us lower afterwards,” he added. “Medium term, still very much bullish, just short term we’re in for a rough ride.” 

Other markets

Digital assets on CoinDesk’s big board are mostly in the green on Friday. Ether (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, less than a percent in 24 hours, trading at $213 as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. EDT). 

Ether trading on Coinbase since May 6
Source: TradingView

Cryptocurrency winners include neo (NEO) in the green 6.6%, iota (IOTA) climbing 5.5%, and bitcoin cash (BCH) higher by 3.7%. Losers include dogecoin (DOGE) in the doghouse down 2.2% and decred (DCR) losing 1%. All price changes were as of 20:00 UTC (4:00 p.m. EDT) Friday.

Read more: Bitfinex Has a Derivatives Contract With Exposure to Bitcoin Dominance

In commodities, oil mostly traded flat but rallied late, up 4.6% Friday. Gold is trending down today, down less than a percent and closed the New York trading session at $1,706. For the year, the yellow metal is up 13%. 

Contracts-for-difference on Gold since May 6
Source: TradingView

In the United States, the S&P 500 index of large cap stocks was up 1.7% despite the worst jobs report in over seven decades; 20 million people were laid off from work in April and the unemployment rate is now at a devastating 14.7%. U.S. Treasury bonds were mixed. Yields, which move in the opposite direction as price, were up most on the 10-year, in the green 4.8%.

In Europe the FTSE Eurotop 100 index of publicly traded companies ended trading up 2.3%. 

The Nikkei 225 index in Asia ended its day up 2.5%. It’s a surge attributed to positive news surrounding Japanese policymakers planning to subsidize landlords of small businesses up to $20 billion over the next six months. 

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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News Veterans Today

Epic Muslim struggle will continue until Palestine is liberated from Zionists – Veterans Today

By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor, for Press TV

As we approach Quds Day in 2020 which is the last Friday of Ramadan we are witnessing the Zionist genocidal occupiers going into a kind of an extreme frenzy, as they try to erase Palestine from the map.

The Zionists are planning to annex part of occupied Palestine, meaning they’re going to claim that it is all part of so-called Israel.

And this is, of course, a complete, extreme violation of all international law as well as the dozens if not hundreds of UN resolutions on the matter.

So where will this go? Well, right now, the Zionist extremist Likud faction that has dominated Israel for the past couple of decades—and which of course was responsible for the September 11 coup d’etat here in the United States, which was designed to drag the United States into a war on Israel’s antagonists in the region—these crazy extreme Likud Zionists who’ve taken over Israel are now planning to violate international law in an even more extreme way than they have before, with their stealing Palestinian land and outright annexation, which is about as extreme as it gets.

And having this timed (just) before Quds Day, which is the day when Muslims around the world take note of Palestine as an Islamic issue and vow to liberate the Holy Land as Salah ad-Din did centuries ago, and to restore Palestine, and to restore the holy places and save the holy places of Palestine, including the Masjid Al Aqsa, which is the place where the Prophet Muhammad (Ṣallā Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) did his Isra and Mi’raj night journey into the presence of God.

So it’s so outrageous that a group of extremists, atheists for the most part because the Zionist movement is basically founded by atheists, have claimed that God gave them this land, even though they don’t believe in God so they’re going to commit genocide there.

This is appalling savagery. It’s utter barbarism, and it’s in fact a real insult to God.

And not just Muslims but Christians too should recognize that this genocide in their holy land where the Great Prophet Jesus (peace upon him) is also from, is an insult to them as well.

So essentially the Zionists represent a handful of people taking on the majority of the world’s population, that is more than 4 billion people who are either Christian or Muslim, and yet somehow they’ve managed to hoodwink the world through their complete control of the financial apparatus and their control of mainstream media in the West. But West is losing its power now, things are going to change.

And whether this will be the year that standing up against this Zionist war crimes machine finally starts to turn the tide, or not, it’s a struggle that so many of us, probably hundreds of millions of us if not billions around the world are dedicated to and will continue to teach our children so that if necessary this will go on until Palestine is finally liberated, inshallah.

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror.

He is host of TRUTH JIHAD RADIO; a hard driving weekly radio show funded by listener donations at and FALSE FLAG WEEKLY NEWS (FFWN); a audio-video show produced by Tony Hall, Allan Reese, and Kevin himself. FFWN is funded through FundRazr.

He also has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications.

Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin; where he ran for Congress in 2008. He currently works as a nonprofit organizer, author, and talk radio host.

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