Bitcoin Daily: $90 Million Hedge Fund Founder Pleads Guilty To Fraud; India’s Exchanges Campaign Government To Regulate, Not Ban, Crypto

Indian Legislators Recommend Crypto Ban

Protego Trust Bank N.A. was granted conditional approval for a national bank charter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the company announced on Friday (Feb. 5).

The charter will allow for Protego clients to hold, trade, issue and lend digital assets.

The Washington state-based bank said in the press release that its services include providing custody of digital and other assets and issuing new digital assets. It will also provide a trading platform for its clients and will allow clients to borrow and lend from and to each other.

“The demand from institutional investors for secure and compliant access to digital assets — led by Bitcoin — is growing everyday,” said Chris Hunter, Protego’s Head of Business Development, in the press release. “I think that’s one reason why we have already secured commitments for more than $1.5 billion in AUC at launch.”

In other news, India’s cryptocurrency exchanges have joined together to campaign the parliament against imposing a ban on digital assets, CoinDesk reported.

The #IndiaWantsBitcoin campaign encourages India’s citizens to contact their representatives to support positive, progressive regulation of the crypto market — rather than a ban.

The campaign is a response to a bill recently scheduled for discussion that would ban private cryptocurrencies but support a central bank digital currency.

“It’s a critical moment, and all eyes are on India to find out if we’re for or against innovation,” Nischal Shetty, CEO of WazirX exchange, told CoinDesk.

Meanwhile, hedge fund founder Stefan He Qin plead guilty to securities fraud in the federal court of the Southern District of New York on Thursday (Feb. 4). Qin founded hedge funds Virgil Sigma Fund LP and VQR Multistrategy Fund LP, but stole investor money from Virgil Sigma for years. Then in December 2020, he attempted to steal investor money from VQR to pay back Virgil Sigma’s investors.

“Stefan He Qin drained almost all of the assets from the $90 million cryptocurrency fund he owned, stealing investors’ money, spending it on indulgences and speculative personal investments, and lying to investors about the performance of the fund and what he had done with their money,” said U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in the statement.

And a Serbian man was extradited to the U.S. over allegations that he and over a dozen other alleged fraudsters scammed investors out of over $70 million, according to a statement from the Northern District of Texas.

Antonije Stojilkovic and his coconspirators created and marketed over 20 fraudulent investing platforms, including BTC Mining Factor, Trinity Mining and Dragon Mining. From around the world, they used a variety of fake profiles to solicit investments for the fraudulent platforms.

They advertised an average payout of 80 percent on their binary options platforms, and told investors they could “purchase bitcoin at half market price” because of “24-7 mining” at global facilities. After investors wired money to an international bank account, the scammers gave them logins to fake investment portals, fabricated trading activity and showed positive returns on investments.

The scammers could face up to 20 years in federal prison.