Former South African president Zuma pleads not guilty to money-laundering charges
Twenty-five years after some of his alleged offenses took place, ex-president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is finally facing trial. He pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption, racketeering, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
The one-time ANC Intelligence officer, who led the country from 2009 until his ousting in 2018, has long been embroiled in scandals and corruption allegations, which saw him fired as deputy president in 2005. The charges, some of which date back to the mid-nineties, also implicate co-accused French armaments company Thales.
The charge regarding Thales centres around a lucrative arms deal, for which Zuma accepted bribes. Also among the charges, the ex-president is accused of accepting bribes from a former financial advisor over a ten-year period.
Zuma’s day in court is the culmination of charges which have been laid against him since 2005. The 79-year-old ex-president could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Read more on this story at the Express and Star.
UK financial regulators interested in ‘Britcoin’
The Bank of England and national treasury have resolved to explore the possibility of creating a UK central bank digital currency (CBDC). While the process of establishing the so-called Britcoin is in its infancy and will require considerable engagement form multiple stakeholders, there is optimism about the possibilities of such a move.
Amongst the advantages of a CBDC are improved transaction efficiency and easier cross-border transactions. It is also possible that the UK’s covid furlough schemes will be more efficiently run. Additionally, the improved data collection of a digital currency will better enable the Bank of England to study and define monetary policies.
While money laundering and financial crime risks will accompany the innovation, it is hoped that these can be mitigated by stakeholder engagement from all players in the sector. It is believed that the new digital currency could be in use during 2024.
Read more on this story at Finextra.
Police raid suspected drug den which turns out to be illegal Bitcoin mine
A cryptocurrency 'mine' stealing thousands of pounds worth of electricity from the National Grid has been raided by police. Acting on tip-offs that the premises were being used to farm cannabis, officers raided the establishment in an industrial estate in Sandwell, West Midlands, earlier this month.
Suspicions were originally raised when a huge increase in electricity usage at the premises was detected by a drone. Tipsters had also told police of large numbers of unexplained visitors, ventilation ducts and visible wiring.
West Midlands Police's Sergeant Jennifer Griffin was surprised at the finding, saying that police had expected to find a cannabis cultivation set-up.
“It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it's only the second such crypto mine we've encountered in the West Midlands.” she said.
She added, “My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is. We've seized the equipment and will be looking into permanently seizing it under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”
Bitcoin was recently in the news in China when police foiled a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme in January. Tesla’s Elon Musk also recently distanced himself from Bitcoin mining, citing environmental concerns in relation to the use of fossil fuels.
Read more on this story at the Daily Mail.
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