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Bankman-Fried Accusations Show Increased Role of US Attorney General in Crypto Enforcement By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US Attorney Damian Williams during a press conference regarding the indictment of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX in New York City, US, December 13, 2022. REUTERS/David De Delgado/File Photo

Written by Luke Cohen and Chris Prentice

NEW YORK (Reuters) – When he took over as Manhattan’s top federal attorney general in late 2021, Damian Williams pledged to prioritize “rooting out corruption in our financial markets.”

Now, with fraud charges filed earlier this week against Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the bankrupt FTX exchange, Williams has cemented his office’s growing role in prosecuting cryptocurrency-related financial crimes, according to interviews with six former prosecutors.

“Every American attorney is defined in the public eye by some of the biggest cases they bring,” said Harry Sandeck, partner at law firm Patterson Belknap and a former Manhattan federal prosecutor. “This will forever be associated with the current US Attorney General.”

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The indictment against Bankman-Fried — who was charged with using billions in stolen client money to buy real estate, pay debts to his hedge fund, Alameda Research, and donate to political campaigns — positions Williams as a primary adversary to a high-profile businessman whose downfall captured public attention and led to calls For further regulation of cryptocurrency platforms.

Bankman-Fried, 30, acknowledged the failure of risk management at FTX but said he did not believe he had criminal liability. His lawyer said he was evaluating his legal options. On Tuesday, a judge in the Bahamas ordered him held there while he contested a US extradition request.

Williams led the Securities and Commodities Task Force for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) before President Joe Biden nominated him to be the district’s top attorney general. Williams, the first black American attorney in the United States, earned his law degree from Yale University and clerked for former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as well as current Attorney General Merrick Garland when Garland was an appellate judge.

Earlier this year, Williams filed its first insider trading case involving digital assets with charges against a former employee of non-fungible token trading platform OpenSea as well as a former product manager at Coinbase (NASDAQ::Global Inc), an FTX competitor.

Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.

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SDNY has long been known as one of the most powerful executors of financial crimes, and some former prosecutors have compared Williams’ series of cryptocurrency-related trials to a focus on insider trading by Preet Bharara, who served as US Attorney from 2009 to 2017 and secured. Convictions of fund managers like Raj Rajaratnam.

Williams was a prosecutor in several high-profile financial crime cases during Bharara’s tenure, including the insider trading conviction of former Goldman Sachs (NYSE:) board member Rajat Gupta and the fraud conviction of a former portfolio manager at Visium Asset Management LP.

“Crypto is the Wild West, but at the end of the day fraud is fraud,” said Mike Ferrara, a former attorney general and now attorney at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP in New York. “Damien does a good job of saying, ‘We’re going to push the envelope in cryptocurrency,’ the way Brett has been aggressive about insider trading.”

A spokesman for Williams’ office declined to comment.

“Come visit us before we come to see you.”

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Pursuing cryptocurrency prosecutions is not without challenges. Defense attorneys might argue that because the sector is relatively new and questions about how to regulate it are still brewing, their clients have not been clear about how laws designed for traditional finance will apply to them.

“The government is having a hard time keeping up and explaining to industry participants what they are supposed to do,” said Elise Maisel, a professor at New York University School of Law and a former white-collar defense attorney. “With these criminal cases, a lot of the time is organized through enforcement.”

In one setback for prosecutors, three former founders and first employee of cryptocurrency exchange Bitmex — who pleaded guilty to charges brought by Williams’ predecessor of failing to set up an anti-money laundering program — earlier this year received lighter sentences than prosecutors had requested.

The judge in that case said that despite the seriousness of the crime, prosecutors had not brought greater charges of money laundering or fraud, and there were no identifiable victims.

Williams’ office has certainly pursued more traditional financial crime cases, too, with charges filed this year against the founder of Archegos Capital Management for lying to banks to obtain loans before the company collapsed, and against the former chief investment officer of a. unit of German Allianz (ETR: SE) to inflate money results.

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Both pleaded not guilty.

In the aftermath of Bankman-Fried’s arrest, Williams has made it clear that he will continue to enforce cryptocurrency laws. On Wednesday, he announced wire fraud conspiracy charges against the founders of two separate cryptocurrency mining and trading companies he dubbed Ponzi schemes.

The five defendants in one case have pleaded not guilty, while the three defendants in the other case have not yet presented their defenses.

Williams told reporters on Tuesday that more charges in the FTX investigation may be possible.

“This investigation is very ongoing and moving very quickly,” Williams said. “To anyone who has engaged in wrongdoing at FTX or Alameda Research and has not yet come forward, I strongly encourage you to come see us before we come to see you.”

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Red Flags That Your Spouse Is Hiding Money (And What To Do About It)

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Marriage can be hard enough without one spouse hiding money from the other.

When financial infidelity occurs in the form of “hidden cash,” a marriage or a live-forever relationship can easily be ended.

The truth is About 30% of American couples suffer from financial infidelity. Other evidence shows that more than 75% of couples describe the hidden money situation as negative and common 10% of these scenarios end in divorce.

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US judge orders Norwegian Cruise Line to pay $110m for use of Cuba port By Reuters

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© Reuters. Norwegian American Airlines cruise ship Marina arrives in Havana Bay, Cuba on March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Meneghini/File/File Photo

Written by Brian Ellsworth

MIAMI (Reuters) – Norwegian Shipping Line (NYSE) has to pay $110 million in compensation for the use of a port confiscated by the Cuban government in 1960, a US judge said Friday, marking a significant milestone for Cuban Americans. Who are seeking reparations for the Cold War era. Assets confiscation.

The decision by US District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami follows her decision in March that use of the Havana Cruise Terminal constituted smuggling of forfeited property belonging to the plaintiff, Delaware-registered Havana Docks Corp.

The decision read: “The judgment is made in favor of Plaintiff Havana Docks Corporation and against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Ltd.”

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“The plaintiff was awarded $109,848,747.87 in damages,” it says, adding that the Norwegian must also pay an additional $3 million in legal fees and costs.

Norwegian Cruise Line did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has sharply criticized the Helms-Burton Act, calling it an extraterritorial violation of international law.

Havana Docks also sued Carnival Cruise Lines (NYSE: ), Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) and MSC under the Helms-Burton Act, which allows US citizens to sue over the use of property seized in Cuba after 1959.

The ruling could fuel more lawsuits by Cuban exiles pursuing claims, worth $2 billion, according to one estimate, over asset seizures under late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

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It may also serve as a reminder to multinational companies of the complexities that can come with doing business in Cuba.

In 2016, US cruise ships began traveling to Cuba for the first time in decades after a détente negotiated by former President Barack Obama eased some provisions of a Cold War US embargo.

But the Trump administration in 2019 ordered a halt to all such cruises amid efforts to pressure Cuba over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Washington’s ideological foe.

The Trump administration has also allowed US citizens to sue third parties for using property seized by Cuban authorities, a provision of the Helms-Burton Act that every previous president has waived since the law was passed in 1996.

Havana Docs says Cuba, which has been under a US trade embargo for decades, has never compensated it for taking the drug.

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The four cruise lines sued in 2019 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Bloom in March held the companies liable for damages under the Helms-Burton Act, also known as the Libertad Act.

According to the US-Cuban Economic and Trade Council, a nonprofit organization that provides information on relations between the two countries, 5,913 validated claims related to property seized in Cuba represent an estimated liability of nearly $2 billion.

Forty-four lawsuits have been filed under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the organization says.

“For the current plaintiffs of Cuban descent, (the decision) will give them a moment of relief,” said John Cavulich, the group’s president. “It will give them a moment to say ‘You can run but you can’t hide,’” Cavulich said.

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Is a Royal Caribbean or Carnival beverage package worth it?

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An all-inclusive beverage package that gives you access to beer, wine, liquor, bottled water, soda, specialty coffee, and even shakes/juices may cost more than your cruise fare.

This is especially true right now when many cruise cabins are being sold at discounted prices while the drinks package prices have gone up.

Deciding whether to purchase a drink package is a challenge because you have to estimate whether you will be drinking enough to cover the cost. Or, more importantly, whether you’d spend more if you decided not to purchase a drink package.



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