Top Stories This Week
US officials announce $4.3B settlement with Binance, plea deal with CZ
Binance and its co-founder, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, have reached a settlement over criminal and civil cases with the United States Department of Justice. CZ will plead guilty to one felony charge as part of the negotiated agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the settlement, claiming Binance’s policies allowed criminals involved in illicit activities to move “stolen funds” through the exchange. As part of the settlement, CZ announced on X (formerly Twitter) that he had stepped down as CEO and that Binance’s global head of regional markets, Richard Teng, will assume the position. He added he was “proud to point out” that U.S. officials didn’t allege that Binance misappropriated funds or manipulated markets. CZ was released on bail and is battling government efforts to bar his return to the United Arab Emirates to be with his family. His sentencing is scheduled for February.
BlackRock met with SEC officials to discuss spot Bitcoin ETF
Representatives from BlackRock and Nasdaq met with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to discuss the proposed rule allowing the listing of a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). BlackRock provided a presentation detailing how the firm could use an in-kind or in-cash redemption model for its iShares Bitcoin Trust. Many reports have suggested the SEC could be nearing a decision on a spot BTC ETF for listing on U.S. markets. SEC officials also met with Grayscale representatives this week to discuss the listing of a Bitcoin ETF. BlackRock is one of many firms with spot crypto ETF applications in the SEC pipeline awaiting a response, including Fidelity, WisdomTree, Invesco Galaxy, Valkyrie, VanEck and Bitwise.
Bitcoin user pays $3.1M transaction fee for 139 BTC transfer
A Bitcoin user paid $3.1 million in fees for transferring 139.42 BTC. The transaction fee is the eighth-highest in Bitcoin’s 14-year history. A wallet address tried transferring 139.42 BTC only to pay more than half the actual value of the transaction fee. The destination address received only 55.77 BTC. The mining pool Antpool captured the absurdly high mining fee on block 818087. This is the largest Bitcoin transaction fee ever paid in dollar terms, knocking off Paxos’s September transfer of $500,000.
SEC sues Kraken alleging it’s an unregistered exchange, mixes user funds
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has sued Kraken, alleging it commingled customer funds and failed to register with the regulator as a securities exchange, broker, dealer and clearing agency. Additionally, the SEC alleged Kraken’s business practices and “deficient” internal controls saw the exchange commingle up to $33 billion worth of customer assets with its own. The SEC said this resulted in a “significant risk of loss” for its clients. In a follow-up blog post, Kraken said the SEC’s commingling accusations were “no more than Kraken spending fees it has already earned,” and the regulator doesn’t allege any user funds are missing.
Appeals court rejects Sam Bankman-Fried’s bid for release
Sam Bankman-Fried will stay jailed after failing to convince a United States appellate court that he should be freed while his legal team appeals his conviction. Government prosecutors accused Bankman-Fried of leaking Caroline Ellison’s journals to The New York Times in July, which caused his bail to be revoked by a New York District Court. Bankman-Fried was found guilty of seven fraud and money laundering-related charges on Nov. 2. The former FTX CEO will remain behind bars while he awaits his sentencing on March 28 next year.
Winners and Losers
Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Blur (BLUR) at 99.25%, FTX Token (FTT) at 39.05% and KuCoin Token (KCS) at 24.82%.
The top three altcoin losers of the week are Celestia (TIA) at -19.89%, ORDI (ORDI) at -17.63% and THORChain (RUNE) at -15.53%.
For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.
Most Memorable Quotations
“The U.S. has a financial regime that basically has been weaponized.”
Charles Hoskinson, founder of Cardano
“I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility.”
Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, former CEO of Binance
“We, the employees of OpenAI, have developed the best models and pushed the field to new frontiers, [but] the process through which you terminated Sam Altman […] has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company.”
“Get your crypto company out of the U.S. warzone.”
Jesse Powell, co-founder of Kraken
“The regulatory uncertainty that permeates the U.S. market is having an impact on the rest of the world.”
Oliver Linch, CEO of Bittrex Global
“I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI
Prediction of the week
‘Enjoy sub-$40K Bitcoin’ — PlanB stresses $100K average BTC price from 2024
Bitcoin buyers should enjoy the chance to add to their stack below $40,000, according to PlanB, pseudonymous creator of the stock-to-flow family of BTC price models. He believes Bitcoin will rise much higher than its recent 18-month highs.
Bitcoin bear market bottoms are characterized by the spot price dipping below the realized price, while bull markets begin once the spot crosses the two-year and five-month realized price levels. BTC/USD is now once again above all three realized price iterations.
“Enjoy sub-$40k bitcoin … while it lasts,” PlanB commented on an accompanying chart.
Asked whether the market should expect lower levels from here, PlanB would not be drawn, saying that he simply expected an average BTC price of at least $100,000 between 2024 and 2028 — Bitcoin’s next halving cycle.
FUD of the Week
HTX to restore services ‘within 24 hours’ after $30M hack
Crypto exchange HTX, formerly known as Huobi Global, resumed deposits and withdrawals within 24 hours after suffering a $30 million exploit on Nov. 22. The exploit was reported to be $13.6 million around the time of the incident, but has since increased in value. HTX’s hot wallets were compromised alongside a coordinated $86.6 million attack against the HTX Eco (HECO) Chain bridge, consisting of HTX, Tron and BitTorrent. The company has promised to fully compensate users for any losses incurred as a consequence of the hack.
CZ an ‘unacceptable risk of flight,’ should stay in US: DOJ
United States prosecutors are trying to stop former Binance boss Changpeng “CZ” Zhao from leaving the country, expressing concern about his potential flight risk. The government requested a review and overturn of a judge’s decision that would allow Zhao to return to his home in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a $175 million bond under the condition that he returns to the U.S. two weeks before his February 2024 sentencing. In a proposed order, prosecutors wrote that Zhao “presents an unacceptable risk of flight,” arguing that his ties and favored status in the UAE, along with the country’s lack of an extradition treaty with the U.S., are reasons to block him from leaving the country.
KyberSwap hacker offers $4.6M bounty for return of $46M loot
The decentralized exchange KyberSwap has offered a 10% bounty reward to the hacker who stole $46 million on Nov. 22 and left a note of negotiation. The exchange wants 90% of the loot returned. The hacker made away with roughly $20 million in Wrapped Ether, $7 million in wrapped Lido-staked Ether and $4 million in Arbitrum tokens. The hacker then siphoned the loot across multiple chains, including Arbitrum, Optimism, Ethereum, Polygon and Base.
Top Magazine Pieces of the Week
This is your brain on crypto: Substance abuse grows among crypto traders
According to some addiction experts, the high-stress atmosphere of cryptocurrency trading can provide a perfect environment for substance abuse.
Michael Saylor’s a fan, but Frisby says bull run needs a new guru: X Hall of Flame
Bitcoin enthusiast Dominic Frisby has a wild journey, from penning one of the first-ever Bitcoin books to plastering “Bitcoin fixes this” on the Bank of England.
6 Questions for Alex O’Donnell about financial journalism and the future of DeFi
Alex O’Donnell spoke to Cointelegraph Magazine about his career as a financial journalist — and how it led to his involvement in crypto and Umami DAO.
The most engaging reads in blockchain. Delivered once a