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SBF Arrested and Australia to Increase Efforts to Regulate Crypto

Here we are—the end of another year. It has certainly been a difficult time for many in the world of digital assets, but if there’s one thing to be counted on in the crypto space, it’s the energy and optimism of its adherents. 

In news this December, Sam Bankman-Fried, the fallen former CEO of FTX, has been arrested in the Bahamas. He stands accused of fraud by US regulators and is expected to be extradited following his next court hearing. 

Former President Donald Trump has released, and almost immediately sold, a collection of NFTs valued at roughly US$4.5 million, and, in further news in the NFT sphere, Amazon Prime is set to launch a series covering NFT culture. 

Sam Bankman-Fried arrested in the Bahamas 

Though it comes as no surprise, Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced former CEO of FTX and founder of Alameda Research, has been arrested in the Bahamas following the collapse of his companies, and revelations he potentially misused customer money, among other allegations. 

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas after the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York shared a sealed indictment with the Bahamian government. This marks the first move by regulators to hold those responsible for the multi-billion dollar collapse of FTX last month. 

He was initially denied bail in the wake of his arrest, as he was expected to fight his extradition to the United States and deemed a flight risk. However, Bankman-Fried has now agreed to be extradited to face charges of fraud. 

The 30-year-old, once dubbed the ‘King of Crypto’, rode the wild success of booming digital assets, establishing himself as a multi-billionaire and influential political donor. After his crypto trading company FTX faced serious liquidity issues, it collapsed in early November. In the wake of this collapse, several pieces of information have come to light revealing deeply unethical business practices, poor management, and more.  

Bankman-Fried has been charged by Manhattan federal prosecutors with stealing billions worth of FTX customer deposits to make up for losses incurred by his hedge fund, Alameda Research, and stands accused of misleading investors and lenders, violating US campaign finance laws, and conspiring to launder money. 

While Bankman-Fried admits to failures in risk-management at FTX, he rejects any suggestion that he is criminally liable for its terrific losses.

Australia to increase efforts to regulate crypto 

Australia is set to unveil a new framework for regulating cryptocurrency companies in the coming year as part of its efforts to modernise the nation’s financial system. 

In a joint statement, Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones acknowledged that the current “regulatory architecture” has not kept up with the evolving market, including the emergence of digital products and services. To address this, a consultation paper will be published in early 2023 to determine which digital assets should be regulated and also consult on “appropriate custody and licensing” rules. 

Australia has ramped up its efforts to regulate the cryptocurrency sector this year, with the establishment of a dedicated unit within the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and an expansion of the cryptocurrency team at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).  

In addition, the Reserve Bank of Australia is set to complete a pilot for its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) by mid-2023. 

Donald Trump’s NFT launch sells out in less than a day 

The former President of the United States has released a collection of “digital trading cards” which has been met with mixed opinions. 

Former United States President Donald Trump released a collection of digital trading cards, and they sold out in less than 24 hours for roughly $4.5 million USD.  

Trump referred to a ‘major announcement’ on his Truth Social media platform on Wednesday, revealing the next day a limited edition NFT collection. The cards include images of Trump in a boxing ring, as a race car driver, and on a football, among other settings and in various modes of style and dress. 

Each NFT, available on the Opensea marketplace, were available for $99 USD each, with 45,000 on sale—a reference to his being the 45th US president. By Friday, all the cards were sold out. 

Those who purchased the cards were also entered into a competition for a range of prizes, including dinner at Mar-a-Lago with Trump, a game of golf with the former president, a Zoom call, and signed memorabilia. 

Trump is currently facing pressure from within the Republican Party following less than ideal midterm election results in November, as well as a series of legal woes, and the NFT windfall may well assist in these endeavours. 

Amazon Prime to launch series about NFT culture 

A new documentary series, NFTMe, has been announced by Amazon Prime, looking to shine a light on the artists, collectors, and industry professionals of the NFT industry, and examine the nature of the crossover between art and technology. 

Non-fungible tokens are all the rage, and Amazon’s six-part docuseries goes to great lengths to express the detail, wonderment, and expansion of this phenomenon.

In half-hour episodes, NFTMe explores the NFT community, describing the nature of the tokens themselves, and the blockchain technology upon which they are built, as well as a host of prominent designers, investors, and influencers in this space. 

The show seeks to examine how brands are connected to NFTs, and how they might access new generations, and expand existing audiences, as well as the social impacts of the digital world, and the role of NFTs in empowering individual creators.  

The series is the work of director and film producer Jonny Caplan and will be streaming on Amazon Prime in the US and the UK, before a worldwide rollout in 2023. 

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