This Week in the Metaverse: $3.36bn Bitcoin seizure and crypto’s ‘gray list’
Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:
The US Department of Justice announced yesterday that it seized more than $3.36bn in Bitcoin from James Zhong / Adobe Stock
US Department of Justice announces Bitcoin seizure valued at more than $3.36bn. In a statement published yesterday, the Department announced that law enforcement seized more than 50,676 Bitcoin from James Zhong, who had “unlawfully obtained [the funds] from the Silk Road dark web internet marketplace” just over 10 years ago. The crypto assets were seized back in November 2021, and were valued at the time at more than $3.36bn (their value today is just shy of $982m). “This seizure was then the largest cryptocurrency seizure in the history of the US Department of Justice and today remains the Department’s second largest financial seizure ever,” the Department said in the statement.
On Friday, Zhong pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison sentence, as prescribed by Congress, of 20 years.
“James Zhong committed wire fraud over a decade ago when he stole approximately 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Road,” US Attorney James Williams said in a statement. “For almost 10 years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing Bitcoin had ballooned into an over-$3.3bn mystery. Thanks to state-of-the-art cryptocurrency tracing and good old-fashioned police work, law enforcement located and recovered this impressive cache of crime proceeds. This case shows that we won’t stop following the money, no matter how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn tin.”
Intergovernmental watchdog to begin adding countries to “gray list” in global crypto crackdown. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global organization that combats money laundering, will start adding countries that lack anti-money laundering laws for cryptocurrencies – including Haiti and Syria – to a “gray list,” Al Jazeera reported yesterday. The organization will reportedly be checking annually to ensure that countries have policies in place to prevent crypto companies operating within their jurisdictions from enabling money laundering and terrorist financing.
PlayStation announces release date for its next-gen virtual reality (VR) headset. The PlayStation VR 2 (PSVR2) will be released in February 2023 – and available for preorder later this month – the video game giant announced in a blog post on November 2. Unlike Meta’s new Quest Pro headset, which is being sold for an alarming $1,499 and is being marketed largely as a workplace tool, the PSVR2 is designed exclusively for gaming.
Fidelity Investments prepares to launch a new crypto trading platform. On November 3, the financial services firm – one of the largest in the world – opened the waitlist for Fidelity Crypto. This new service will enable the firm’s retail clients to make commission-free trades of Bitcoin and Ether, currently the two leading cryptocurrencies by market cap. The program will ultimately be accessible through the Fidelity Investments app, though no official launch date has yet been announced.
Asics launches collaboration with Solana. The sportswear brand unveiled the ‘UI Collection,’ which includes two versions of its GT-2000 shoe dubbed ‘light mode’ and ‘dark mode,’ on November 4. Asics said in a statement that the “design comes from the user interfaces (UI) on computer and phone screens to symbolize a healthy balance between screen time and physical activity,” Created in partnership with blockchain platform Solana, the UI Collection represents Solana’s latest step into the web3 space: the new shoes come with an NFT and can only be purchased using cryptocurrency on Solana Pay, the blockchain brand’s free payment platform.
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