Top Stories This Week
SEC delays several Ethereum ETFs, pushing final decision to May
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed its decision on several Ethereum exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to May 2024. The agency said it was instituting proceedings that involve gathering further public input around whether or not the ETFs should be listed. The decision affects proposals from Hashdex, Grayscale, VanEck, ARK Invest and 21Shares. Despite the SEC having approved Ethereum futures ETFs in the past, the agency has yet to approve a spot or mixed-type product. A final decision is expected in May 2024.
US court approves settlement against Binance, firm to pay $2.7B to CFTC
A United States court has entered an order against crypto exchange Binance and its former CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, that will see Binance pay $2.7 billion and CZ pay $150 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The agency sued the executive and his exchange on March 27 for evading federal law and operating an illegal derivatives exchange. The approved settlement marks the conclusion of a long-running case against CZ and Binance by the CFTC. CZ agreed to step down from his role at the helm of Binance as part of a wider settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Treasury Department and the CFTC.
Judge denies SBF request for delays on eve of sentencing interview
Judge Lewis Kaplan has denied former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried’s request for a four- to six-week adjournment of his sentencing hearing. The request was made on Dec. 20 and would have delayed his pre-sentencing interview, as well as the sentencing hearing currently scheduled for March 28, 2024. The request was made by attorney Mark Cohen of Cohen & Gresser, claiming the defense needs more time to prepare for the pre-sentencing interview. In addition, disclosures for the pre-sentence investigation report are scheduled for Jan. 5, 2024, and Feb. 2, 2024, but the government has not yet announced whether it will proceed with a second trial on the severed charges against Bankman-Fried.
FTX debtors and liquidators reach ‘novel and mutually-beneficial’ settlement
Debtors for defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX have announced a global settlement with the liquidators for the firm’s Bahamian arm as part of bankruptcy proceedings. According to the terms of the proposed settlement — subject to approval by a bankruptcy court in the U.S. and the Supreme Court of the Bahamas — all FTX users who don’t otherwise have claims pending with the court will be paid in U.S. dollars for losses in cash or digital assets, except nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Eligible users with claims can vote on the reimbursement plan in the second quarter of 2024. FTX filed for bankruptcy in November 2022.
‘In Argentina, contracts can be settled in Bitcoin’ — Foreign minister
Argentina’s minister, Diana Mondino, claims that a decree legalizing the use of certain currencies in contracts and payments would apply to Bitcoin in the country. The decree, disclosed on Dec. 20 by new president Javier Milei and designed for economic reform and deregulation, allows the use of BTC and other cryptocurrencies in the country under certain conditions. Other provisions within the decree give individuals the freedom to choose the type of currency used — largely referring to foreign currencies, but not explicitly denying crypto.
Winners and Losers
At the end of the week, Bitcoin (BTC) is at $43,707, Ether (ETH) at $2,317 and XRP at $0.62. The total market cap is at $1.66 trillion, according to CoinMarketCap.
Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Optimism (OP) at 56.91%, NEAR Protocol (NEAR) at 46.79% and Sei (SEI) 44.80%.
The top three altcoin losers of the week are Bonk (BONK) at -30.15%, SATS (1000SATS) at -19.40% and Beam (BEAM) at -18.02%.
For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.
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Most Memorable Quotations
“In two to three more cycles (each cycle is 4 years), there will be no Bitcoin obituaries. At that time saying BTC is going to die will be as silly as saying ‘air’ is going to fail.”
Oliver L. Velez, professional trader
“Being anti-crypto is a really bad political strategy going into 2024.”
Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase
“It’s not unreasonable to suggest that this [spot Bitcoin ETF] may be the biggest development on Wall Street in 30 years.”
Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy
“The U.K. […] has become the global crypto hub, but to make sure that the market really can take off in the way that was intended — in a responsible way — we need to regulate it.”
Jeremy Hunt, U.K.’s chancellor of the Exchequer
“Like the internet, censorship should be avoided [at the protocol level], and instead, rules and regulations are best applied at the application level.”
Lachlan Feeney, CEO of Labrys
“It would be the last ‘Crypto Super Bowl’ if they launch ETFs. […] Some of these crypto exchanges were sort of selling populism making a ton of money on their really high fees.”
Eric Balchunas, ETF analyst at Bloomberg
Prediction of the week
Bitcoin trader with $12K BTC price target warns ‘weeks’ to crypto comedown
Bitcoin, Ether and other crypto tokens are still in line for “new lows,” says the trader who has held a $12,000 BTC price target throughout the year. In his latest post on X (formerly Twitter) on Dec. 22, the pseudonymous analyst, Il Capo of Crypto, called the end of the current bull market.
BTC/USD, they said, is “probably forming a local top here at 40k–45k,” echoing previous analysis sent to the analyst’s Telegram channel subscribers. “ETH could reach 2500s, and some alts could have the last pumps,” part of the post stated. “After this, a full reversal to new lows is likely over the next few weeks.”
Bitcoin and Ether are up 163% and 92% in 2023, respectively, according to data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView.
FUD of the Week
‘Concerning precedent’ — BloXroute Labs’ MEV relays to reject OFAC blocks
BIoXroute, one of the largest producers of censorship-resistant blocks on Ethereum, has announced that it will start censoring blocks sanctioned by the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) across all of its maximum extractable value (MEV) relays in compliance with local laws. An “OFAC transaction” is any that interacts with a wallet sanctioned by OFAC. About 36% of blocks are currently censored due to those blocks containing OFAC-sanctioned transactions, according to MEVWatch.info, down from a peak of 78% on Nov. 20.
‘MS Drainer’ scammers used Google Ads to swipe $59M in crypto: Report
Scammers used a wallet-draining service called “MS Drainer” to siphon approximately $59 million in crypto from victims over the past nine months, according to a report from blockchain security platform Scam Sniffer. The scammers used Google Ads to target victims with fake versions of popular crypto sites, including Zapper, Lido, Stargate, DefiLlama, Orbiter Finance and Radiant, the report states. Scam Sniffer reported that it found 10,072 fake sites that used MS Drainer. The drainer’s activity peaked in November and has since declined to near zero.
U.S. court approves forfeiture of 69K BTC in Silk Road case
A U.S. appeals court has concluded the legal process to officially confiscate 69,370 Bitcoin and other crypto from defunct dark web marketplace Silk Road. Previously, a ruling declared the government’s claim to Silk Road’s illicit assets. The seized Bitcoin assets also included Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin Cash, in addition to Bitcoin. Silk Road was a platform created in 2011 by Ross Ulbricht for selling drugs and weapons. The FBI closed the site after Ulbricht’s arrest in late 2013. He was sentenced to life in prison.
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Before NFTs: Surging interest in pre-CryptoPunk collectibles
Top Magazine Pieces of the Week
DeFi’s billion-dollar secret: The insiders responsible for hacks
Are insiders responsible for most DeFi hacks and exploits? We talk to cybersecurity experts and industry figures to find out.
Gaming scams ‘red flags’, Axie evolves, Wall Street Games ‘addictive’: Web3 Gamer
There are some clear warning signs to look out for to ensure you don’t fall victim to a blockchain gaming scam.
Hong Kong’s annoying new ‘travel rule’, $1.14B of 3AC’s assets frozen: Asia Express
Hong Kong attracts 210 crypto companies despite its very annoying new travel rule, $1.1B of 3AC’s assets frozen, and more in Asia Express.
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Cointelegraph Magazine writers and reporters contributed to this article.