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Greetings Blockhead readers! Today's top stories are all about Dubai's growing attraction as a hub for the cryptocurrency industry. The emirate is fast becoming a fintech hub that is embracing crypto and blockchain technologies, positioning itself as an exciting place for foreign investment and innovation in the space.
Coinbase, the US-based crypto exchange, is considering moving its headquarters to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as it continues to face regulatory challenges in its home country. More on this story today on Blockhead.
Meanwhile, Ripple is expanding its presence in the region, with plans to open a new office location in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and host its annual customer conference, Swell Global 2023, in Dubai this November. This move makes sense for Ripple, as the MENA region is a key market, with around 20% of all RippleNet customers and over half of its payment volume consisting of cross-border payments from the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia to India.
Dubai's growing importance in the crypto industry is due to several factors. Firstly, the UAE is a business-friendly country with low tax rates and no income tax, making it an attractive location for businesses looking to expand internationally. Secondly, Dubai's leadership has demonstrated a clear vision for the future economy, embracing crypto and blockchain technologies as a means to drive innovation and foreign investment in the space. This forward-thinking approach has attracted a diverse range of crypto and blockchain companies to the city, from small startups to major players like Ripple and Coinbase.
RIP Bittrex, 2014-2022
Bittrex, one of the US' largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware, following an announcement earlier this year that it plans to wind down operations in the United States. The exchange claims to have over 100,000 creditors, with estimated assets and liabilities between $500 million and $1 billion, according to court filings.
Last month, Bittrex and its former CEO William Shihara were charged with running an unregistered national securities exchange, brokerage, and clearing agency by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Bittrex Global CEO Oliver Linch said the exchange intended to fight the charges in court, but the bankruptcy filing may pose a challenge.
Bittrex was founded in 2014 by three senior security managers from Amazon: Bill Shihara, co-founder and CEO; Richie Lai, co-founder and chief information officer; and Rami Kawach, co-founder and chief technology officer. The three are also alumni of Microsoft.
Related: Bittrex as Coinbase Prelude
SBF Says He's Innocent
Sam Bankman-Fried, the former billionaire and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has asked a US judge to dismiss all but three charges in the criminal case against him over the now-bankrupt FTX's collapse, Reuters reported. SBF's lawyers argued that the prosecutor hastily charged him in a "rush to judgment" following a market crash in 2022, during which many cryptocurrency exchanges collapsed. The lawyers also stated that the government was trying to turn civil and regulatory issues into federal crimes.
Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of fraud and conspiracy. The charges he is not contesting are: Conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, Conspiracy to commit securities fraud and Conspiracy to commit money laundering. His trial is set for October 2.
- Cai Yige, the former head of Tencent’s blockchain business has left to start an entertainment-oriented Web3 wallet, Punk Code.
- Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Eddie Yue has warned crypto companies attracted by the city's new digital asset hub to expect strict regulation. Hong Kong will begin a new licensing regime for virtual-asset service providers on June 1 and plans to allow retail investors to trade major tokens like Bitcoin and Ether.
- A Syrian cryptocurrency dealer was kidnapped in Spain and held for a million euro ransom, but was eventually freed by police who raided a luxury villa in Benalmádena and arrested three suspects, one of whom had several false identities and a record for crimes of robbery.
That's all for today. Keep reading Blockhead for more updates on the crypto industry's latest developments!
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