KEB Hana Bank, one of the biggest commercial banks in South Korea, reached an agreement with the state-backed highway operator, the Korea Expressway Corporation, to bring blockchain-based toll payments system across the nation’s highways.
According to D Daily, the project is expected to launch before the end of the year. The system will connect KEB Hana’s smartphone banking app, Hana One Q, for motorists to arrange their toll payments, defer them, or even receive toll fee refunds.
The report states that both parties involved in the deal reached to implement the blockchain solution aim to remove the cash-based or credit card payments, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic that encourages them to offer contactless solutions.
The Korea Expressway Corporation and KEB Hana Bank want to use blockchain to share data to strengthen synergies along with the payment system project.
Strengthening contactless payments’ adoption
Kwang-Ho Lee, head of the sales division at Korea Expressway Corporation, commented on the announcement:
“We will continue to expand customized non-face-to-face (contactless) services to the public by applying blockchain technology, which is part of the Korean version of the digital new deal policy to lead the global economy after the coronavirus.”
The Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Internet & Security Agency approved the deal. KEB Hana also got a nod for its blockchain mobile electronic verification program from the same agencies last year.
Recently, the South Korean government unveiled its intent to invest over $48.2 billion in Blockchain and other Industry 4.0 technologies by 2025. The nation’s goal is to promote the digitization of all industries in the coming post-pandemic era.
Andong, a city in the Gyeongbuk province of South Korea, announced on July 7 that they’d been granted a permit to operate a free trade zone for industrial hemp.
Hackers Have Been Trying To Crack Bitcoin Wallet Worth $750 Million But Here’s The Catch
A bitcoin wallet containing a little over 69,000 BTC is doing the rounds in hacking communities all over the internet. The reason? It’s obvious.
Everyone (read seasoned hackers and self-professed bitcoin wallet crackers) wants to break it open and take it all. Or at least, a slice of the almost $750 million pie. For the last two years, however, no one has been able to ‘strike it lucky.’
Hackers Tried Cracking The 7th Largest Bitcoin Wallet In The World
According to cybersecurity expert Alon Gal, who goes by the handle ‘UnderTheBreach on Twitter, hackers have been trying to break open a bitcoin wallet holding around $720 million worth of BTC (considering today’s rates). However, Gal reported that no one has posted any success regarding the same.
Get this – there is a Bitcoin wallet with 69,000 Bitcoins ($693,207,618) that is being passed around between hackers/crackers for the past 2 years for the purpose of cracking the password, no success so far.
— Alon Gal (Under the Breach) (@UnderTheBreach) September 8, 2020
As it so happens, the bitcoin wallet in the discussion has the 7th largest BTC stash in the world.
It Is Now Available Online For Everyone To Try
While some folks have tried breaking in themselves, most of them admitting failure has advertised the wallet on online hacking forums for somebody else to do the job.
Alon revealed this to Vice in a one-on-one chat regarding the matter:
Stealing Bitcoin wallets from victims worldwide is a common goal among cybercriminals. Wallets tend to be protected by strong passwords and in the event that a cybercriminal manages to obtain a wallet and cannot crack the password he might sell it to opportunistic hash crackers who are individuals with a large amount of GPU power
Gal noticed one such advertisement on a popular hacking forum RaidForums. And not just hacking portals, the wallet showed up on BitcoinTalk on June 29 last year. After that, on All Private Keys and then Wallet-dat(dot)net.
But Does It Contain The 69,370 BTC Though?
The bitcoin wallet seems like a tough nut to crack. But the important question to ask is – Does it contain the BTC? Although it has an alphanumeric address, it is quite possible that the ‘wallet.dat’ file is ‘doctored.’ There is a public key available but not the private key.
The founder of Wallet Recovery Services, Dave Bitcoin, said that:
It’s possible to doctor a Bitcoin wallet.dat file to make it seem like it contains a high balance. The wallet file contains pairs of public key & encrypted private key of the addresses it controls. So one could modify the file in a binary editor and change the public key of one of the address pairs to that of a high value BTC address.
It may be a bait to beguile folks into making bitcoin payments for a shot at cracking a wallet that doesn’t actually have any BTC.
Breaking In Could Be Impossible
According to another assumption, cracking open this bitcoin wallet may be outright impossible. But why?
Quite possibly, the wallet is protected by a long, unique, and difficult to crack the password. Apart from this, the wallet.dat file may be encrypted using a combination of AES-256-CBC and SHA-512 algorithms. These are super slow to process, making it all the more difficult to ‘brute force’ them open.
Huobi Buysback $24 Million HT
One of the biggest crypto exchange handling some $2 billion in daily trading volumes has burned 4.872 million Huobi tokens (HT), worth about $24 million. “The month on month burnt…
One of the biggest crypto exchange handling some $2 billion in daily trading volumes has burned 4.872 million Huobi tokens (HT), worth about $24 million.
“The month on month burnt HT has increased by 97%,” they say while the “circulation deflation rate for the month is about 1.63%.”
So the supply is decreasing by 1.63% a month, with Huobi stating their trading volumes have doubled recently.
Some of their profits are meant to go towards this token that has a total supply of 500 million HTs.
A cool 219 million has been burned, with some 100,000 of it destroyed in just the past two months:
The zero address is the ethereum network address. It’s ‘owned’ by the eth nodes, as in the protocol itself, with it not having a private key.
So this 219 million has gone now with it unable to exchange hands any further as the tokens have effectively been destroyed and are now kind of a museum piece.
This burning of tokens is meant to act as a dividend distribution of sorts with that reduced supply leading to a price appreciation in theory provided all else is equal.
There hasn’t been any notable change in the price of Huobi, however, perhaps because it faces much competition from many new tokens that provide governance rights and ownership over dapps.
Uniswap is the latest example, with this being a decentralized exchange that is now to go through token holders votes to set numerous parameters, including how the daily fee revenue of about $1.5 million is to be distributed.
There are two main methods currently. YFI requires staking with only those that lock the token and vote on governance getting the fees.
Somewhat indirectly this locking would benefit those that are not staking as well due to it temporarily reducing supply, but the main reward goes to those that do a bit of work like voting.
The other method was kicked off by Binance with it being more like the traditional stocks buyback where you use the profits to buy the token and take it out of circulation.
That’s done wonders for Binance’s BNB price which has increased by nearly 10x since it launched to a market cap of $4 billion.
With a decentralized dapp, it’s not clear how this buyback can be done in a code based way as in the case of sushi for example, the token holders voted for the buyback, but an individual with custody over the eth carried out the operation.
Theoretically, there’s no reason why the code can’t do the buyback itself with Andre Cronje probably able to write it up within a week.
The code currently gives the fee of 0.3% to Liquidity Providers (LPs), so to set it to ‘buy uni on the uni/eth pool and burn’ shouldn’t be hard.
That would then make this a deflationary token, with it being a proper share ownership of a code based automated business.
Illicit crypto transactions are getting more attention from the government
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments worldwide to focus on bringing blockchain technology to their financial services, along with the needed regulatory upgrades to keep the burgeoning fintech industry clean.
For example, on Sep. 10, Switzerland — a global center for the wealth management industry, housing around $2 trillion or 27% of global offshore wealth — passed a reformed Blockchain Act that includes a new set of laws and regulations to support the growth of blockchain and decentralized finance companies in the country.
Furthermore, in a major milestone for the crypto industry, leading travel rule solutions nonprofit Travel Rule Information Sharing Alliance, or TRISA, from Ciphertrace and developer of the world’s first tracing tool for Monero, together with Sygna Bridge from CoolBitX announced their interoperability proof-of-concept, allowing crypto service providers from both platforms to meet the requirements as outlined by the travel rule. It is available to the public on GitHub.
The travel rule was introduced by the Financial Action Task Force in June 2019 and requires financial institutions participating in cryptocurrency transactions to exchange relevant beneficiary and originator Know Your Customer, or KYC, information. As a result, Virtual Asset Service Providers, or VASPs, between the two solutions can communicate compliance data with minimal disruption.
As Michael Ou, CEO of CoolBitX and creator of Sygna Bridge, explained: “In the last few years, several innovative solutions have appeared to help crypto and virtual asset businesses comply with anti-money laundering regulations that are beginning to develop around the world — each addressing the needs of different audiences. At the end of the day, money-laundering and terrorist financing are global issues that require the collaboration between different entities. This all begins with ensuring that the solutions are able to communicate effectively between each other. By adapting industry standards such as the IVMS101 and building tools to ensure correct translation and connectivity, Sygna Bridge and TRISA are working together to ensure that the cryptocurrency industry is growing and maturing in a positive direction.”
John Jefferies, chairman of TRISA, added:
“Achieving global interoperability for Travel Rule compliance across jurisdictions is vital for a successful sunrise phase. We are pleased to enable message interoperability and extend mutual VASP authentication in this Travel Rule proof of concept.”
According to statistics released by the United States Office on Drugs and Crime, up to $2 trillion is laundered on the global market annually, which bypasses the latest cryptocurrency KYC measures. Financial institutions could be missing up to 90% of cryptocurrency-related transactions, as they overlook lesser-known digital asset exchanges, according to the latest report by CipherTrace.
Until they are eventually caught by United States law enforcement, criminals prefer using cryptocurrency tumblers or cryptocurrency mixing services when paying for illicit goods and services that are transmitted with no oversight by governments or central banks, thereby obscuring the trail back to the fund’s original source.
Nearly a month after announcing the largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency assets used by terrorist organizations in a multi-agency investigation conducted alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Homeland Security Investigations and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice showcased the results of a five-year operation targeting Mexican drug cartels on Sept. 3.
Robert Murphy, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special agent in charge at Atlanta division, said:
“We have a Mexican drug cartel who initially came to our attention through U.S. Fish and Wildlife when they smuggled over 900 kilos of cocaine with frozen sharks.”
The indictment charged 12 defendants and two businesses with mail and wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and money laundering conspiracy. The charges carry potential penalties of up to life in federal prison with no parole.
A week later, on Sept. 10, the DEA announced the results of a six-month operation, “Crystal Shield,” again targeting Mexican drug cartels operating major methamphetamine transportation hubs in the United States. The operation led to “nearly 1,840 arrests and the seizure of more than 28,560 pounds of methamphetamine, $43.3 million in drug proceeds, and 284 firearms.” The U.S. Attorney General William Barr said more than 60 Mexican cartel figures have been extradited this year, and more are expected. Barr added:
“Unfortunately Covid has intervened and has tempered a lot of the progress we had been making, reduced our momentum.”
These U.S. Federal agencies have bolstered their cryptocurrency oversight and enforcement efforts for 2021 — which begins in October of 2020 — with millions of dollars in new funding to shore up national and international cryptocurrency investigations.
The IRS is already spending some of that funding on a bounty of up to $625,000 to anyone who can crack untraceable privacy coins.
The IRS’s federal whistleblower program
It should be noted that the IRS has a federal whistleblower law program for informants (including foreigners) who provide information that leads to the collection of taxes, whether from undisclosed fiat or cryptocurrency, and offering up to 30% of the resulting tax and penalty revenue.
At the direction of Senator Charles Grassley, Dean Zerbe, a partner at law firm ZMFF&J, was responsible for the modern IRS whistleblower law, which was signed into law in 2006. He also established the IRS Whistleblower Office and created an award program for tax whistleblowers while he was senior counsel and tax counsel for the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, from 2001 to 2008.
This legislation led to the famous UBS tax evasion case that reverberated around the world. UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, admitted to helping Americans dodge taxes, and it agreed to pay the U.S. government $780 million. In a departure from its own legal standards, the Swiss government also divulged banking client secrets. Alarmed by the affair, many U.S. depositors pulled their money out of UBS, and thousands of tax-dodging Americans came clean with the IRS. The IRS awarded $104 million to the banker-turned-whistleblower who helped the government uncover the massive scheme, which was the largest bounty ever granted to a single whistleblower in the U.S. at the time.
As Dean Zerbe explained:
“The IRS released its 2019 annual report on the whistleblower program — showing over $616 million dollars brought into the Treasury thanks to the work of tax whistleblowers speaking out about tax evasion. […] The trend is clear that the IRS has embraced the modern mandatory tax whistleblower program created by my old boss Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) — and it is honest taxpayers who have most benefited.”
The report makes note that whistleblowers can be paid for FBAR violations (undeclared foreign bank accounts) as well as criminal fines.
However, “the top reason — 51%! — whistleblower submission is rejected is because the submission is not specific. […] The IRS does not want submissions that are speculative. The IRS wants and welcomes submissions that are grounded — particularly those coming from credible whistleblowers — containing known facts, dealing with specific taxpayers and ideally, with documents in hand and involving recent/current tax evasion,” pointed out Dean Zerbe.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA is an international tax attorney and certified public accountant who frequently writes about tax, legal and accounting issues for Tax Notes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications and the OECD.
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