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Spanish Law Enforcement Arrests 35 Suspects for Bank Fraud, BTC Money Laundering

Spanish law enforcement arrested 35 people for allegedly counterfeiting banking cards and laundering the proceeds through bitcoin.

Spanish law enforcement arrested 35 people for allegedly counterfeiting banking cards and laundering the proceeds through bitcoin (BTC), local media La Verdad reports on June 14.

Per the report, the organization obtained over €600,000 ($674,000) and laundered over €1 million ($1.2 million) using bitcoin. Furthermore, the Command of Alicante reportedly solved a total of 1,020 connected cybercrimes during the operation. The alleged actions of the suspects — who are from Equatorial Guinea, Spain, Nigeria, Cameroon and Morocco — had a total of 219 victims in Spain, with 20 more in Israel, Denmark, Germany, France and Greece.

According to La Verdad, law enforcement noticed the unauthorized use of 104 banking cards in Spain and 12 other countries. The investigations were then spurred by a complaint filed by a car rental company that detected unauthorized use of their banking cards on online services.

The group allegedly operated in three different ways: phishing via email (pretending to be a trustworthy individual and asking for banking credentials), cloning the physical cards, or obtaining credentials from credit card receipts in what is often referred to as credit card bin attack fraud.

The group reportedly paid for hotels, flights, train tickets and rental vehicles with the cards obtained this way, ordering them for its customers for much lower prices. Companies under the group’s control located in Estonia, the United Kingdom and Finland bought bitcoin with the profits.

As Cointelegraph reported at the time, eight people were arrested in Spain for allegedly operating a money laundering scheme involving cryptocurrencies in March.

As Cointelegraph explained in a recently published analysis, law enforcement groups are also taking action against cryptocurrency anonymization services known as cryptocurrency mixers, or tumblers.

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Eight People Allegedly Arrested for Money Laundering Scheme Involving Crypto in Spain

Eight people have been arrested for allegedly operating a money laundering scheme involving cryptocurrencies.

In Spain, eight people have been arrested for allegedly operating a money laundering scheme involving cryptocurrencies, Europol announced in a press release on May 8.

Per the release, the group laundered money by exchanging fiat currency to crypto assets. The individuals reportedly used cryptocurrency ATMs and split funds into smaller sums to introduce them into the financial system without having the transactions reported as suspicious.

Participants reportedly carried cash, depositing it in several bank accounts and moving it around through different accounts before exchanging it for crypto. Large transfers were sent to accounts from corporate entities owned by the alleged criminals, who also wired money to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Seven houses were searched during the investigations, including a money exchange office and an indoor cannabis cultivation plant. Eleven vehicles, €16,800 ($18,800), nearly 200 cannabis plants, two crypto ATMs, jewels, relevant documents and computers were taken by the authorities. The report also claims that Spanish authorities froze four cold wallets and 20 hot wallets — to which €9 million ($10,000) was transferred — in an unspecified way.

As Cointelegraph reported at the end of April, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance announced that two men plead guilty for illicitly selling steroids and controlled substances and laundering millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies and Western Union payments.

In mid-April, New York state prosecutors also indicted three men for the sale of illicit drugs on the dark web and laundering $2.3 million in cryptocurrency.

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Spain’s Securities Regulator Says It Has Not Authorized Any Entities to Operate ICOs

Spanish regulator has affirmed that it has not authorized any entity to operate an initial coin offering with the agency’s official sanction.

The Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) has affirmed that it has not authorized any entity to operate an initial coin offering (ICO) with the agency’s official sanction. The news was reported by Cointelegraph en Español on March 27.

The regulator issued an official announcement on March 26, which underscored that the agency had to date neither approved nor exercised any power of authorization or vetting of any project in the ICO sector.

CNMV thus stressed that any white paper or other documentation sent to prospective ICO investors should include a disclaimer clarifying that it has not “been subject to any type of review by the CNMV or any other administrative authority,” or similar phrasing to that effect.

Any ICO-related documentation that asserts otherwise is inappropriate, the regulator stressed, unless the text has formally been reviewed or approved by the agency in advance.

The agency further added that its regulatory oversight has thus far been confined to confirming that in the case of tokens that are deemed to be securities, token sales below a certain threshold do not require approval from the regulator. This threshold is determined to be a token issuance of less than 5 million euros, targeting fewer than 150 retail investors — or otherwise in cases where the minimum investment per investor is set at least 100,000 euros.

The agency added the caveat, however, that:

“This, logically, is independent of the fact that the participation of an investment services company may be necessary, in accordance with the provisions of article 35.3 of the LMV [Spanish Securities Market Act] and in the terms set out in the criteria published by the CNMV in this regard.”

As previously reported, in January of this year, the CNMV added 23 unauthorized forex and cryptocurrency entities to its warning list. Among them was a forex and crypto exchange that had also been flagged by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority for operating in Poland without the required license.

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Spain: Stock Exchange Operator Pilots Collateral Pledges Digitization on Blockchain

Bolsas y Mercados Españoles and investment firm Renta 4 Banco completed a blockchain pilot for electronic certificates of collateral pledges.

Major Spanish stock market operator Bolsas y Mercados Españoles (BME) has completed its first blockchain pilot for electronic certificates of collateral pledges, according to an official press release published on March 15.

Implemented along with Renta 4 Banco, which is the only investment services firm listed on the BME, the new pilot intends to eliminate the use of physical certifications by digitizing all processes and providing network participants with real-time access to data.

The pilot’s proof-of-concept (PoC) consisted of the release of collateral pledged by Renta 4 Banco to cover customer’s positions at BME Clearing, BME’s central counterparty.

According to the announcement, the implementation of the blockchain-powered pilot enabled the parties to reduce total processing time by more than 80 percent.

The PoC was developed by BME’s division DLT-Lab, which researches the use of blockchain for improving existing financial procedures in collaboration with regulators and various financial institutions. To develop the pilot, BME’s DLT-Lab worked with infrastructures involved in the process and the BME subsidiaries BME Clearing, the Spanish central securities depository Iberclear and Renta 4 Banco.

According to the press release, BME and Renta 4 Banco will keep working on the initiative in order to launch the new system officially by the end of 2019.

Berta Ares, Head of Digital Transformation at BME, emphasized that distributed ledger tech (DLT) allows the parties involved in the process to both reduce operating times and provide legal certainty for electronic certificates, while maintaining privacy and compliance.

Previously, BME participated in a joint blockchain tech project to record the issuance of financial warrants. The initiative involved eight major European financial institutions, including Spanish securities regulator the National Securities Market Commission, BBVA, BNP Paribas, CaixaBank and others.

In early February, Cointelegraph reported on Switzerland’s principal stock exchange SIX Swiss Exchange plans to test blockchain integration for its upcoming parallel digital trading platform SDX in the second half of 2019. The blockchain-powered platform intends to minimize trading risks, as well as to expand the scope of tradable titles.

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Dutch Crypto Firm Libereum Acquires Spanish Soccer Club Elche CF

Dutch crypto firm Libereum has acquired Spanish soccer club Elche CF for $4.9 million, aspiring to restore the club to the country’s Primera Division via revenue from tokenization.

Dutch crypto firm Libereum has acquired Spanish soccer club Elche CF for $4.9 million, according to a press release published to the Libereum website Dec. 26. The acquisition marks the first step in the crypto company’s ambitions to purchase a set of international soccer clubs and make its ERC20 token, Liber, a mandatory form of payment in the stadiums of those clubs it owns.

Libereum states it secured its purchase of the Segunda División (second division) A club with a bank guarantee of €4.3 million (about $4.9 million) as an initial down payment. According to a report from Finance Magnates published Dec. 27, Libereum had also intended to purchase Dutch club Roda JC Kerkrade, but that deal had “fallen through.”

In 2015, Elche CF — the local club of Elche, the third largest city in the country’s Valencia region — was relegated from Spain’s Primera División (premier division) due to unpaid tax debts and economic mismanagement.

Libereum’s official statement yesterday outlines that the company aspires to restore the club to the Primera Division by bolstering the its financial resources through its Liber token economy:

“We want the [Libereum token] to gradually become part of the financial policy in and around the club, so that everything – on the term – can be paid simply, in an easily accessible way, with Liber. Think of sponsor and transfer deals to ticket sales, merchandising items and catering in the stadium.”

The company claims that demand for the token will drive its market value, generating returns for the club. According to Finance Magnates, Libereum has also this week hinted at an undisclosed deal to purchase another football club allegedly worth €80 million, although details of the purported acquisition are not accessible on the company site as of press time.

As reported, a range of industry players are currently looking to integrate cryptocurrencies with mainstream soccer, with many looking to tokenization as a means to incentivize and monetize fan engagement, or to provide additional streams of revenue for clubs and their management.

This August, seven United Kingdom premier league clubs — Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, Leicester City Football Club, Newcastle United and Southampton — partnered with local crypto trading platform eToro to integrate blockchain and cryptocurrencies in soccer stadiums.

In September, French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) — hailed as the country’s most popular team — announced its partnership with blockchain platform Socios.com to launch a token ecosystem.

Just this month, Brazilian premier league soccer club Atletico Mineiro launched its own fan utility token dubbed “GaloCoin.”

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Major Spanish Bank BBVA Closes €150 Mln Loan With Porsche Holding Using Blockchain

Spain’s second largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, has closed a €150 million loan using blockchain technology.

Spain’s second largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), has closed a €150 million loan using blockchain technology with Porsche Holding, the largest car distributor in Europe. The news was reported by financial news site Finextra Dec. 14.

The transaction is reportedly BBVA’s first blockchain-based loans deal with a non-Spanish borrower. The bank has to date arranged several blockchain-based loans with Spanish corporate customers, including a syndicated loan of $150 million for partly state-owned Spanish national electrical grid operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE) in November, and a €100 million long-term bilateral corporate loan with Spanish engineering firm ACS.

Finextra reports that the Porsche Holdings deal uses the “same mix of private and public blockchain technology” BBVA used in its prior blockchain loan transactions.

As reported, the REE loan had been conducted on a private Hyperledger-based network with participation from three funding banks (BBVA, BNP Paribas and MUFG), REE and two legal advisory firms; the unique document identifier for the signed contract was recorded on the Ethereum (ETH) public blockchain.

In reference to the Porsche Holdings loan, Frank Hoefnagels, head of BBVA CIB in Germany, emphasized that for acquisition finance transactions, for which speed is of the essence, blockchain is of particular relevance:

“This transaction is all about putting blockchain technology into meaningful practice in the interactions with our clients. Our aim is to improve clients’ experience by simplifying processes and enhancing the speed of execution”.

In April, BBVA claimed to have become the “first” global bank to conduct an entire loan process using blockchain, again in a part-private part-public configuration. Recognition of blockchain’s efficacy for lending continues to widen: this October, United Kingdom-based bank Natwest announced it would be integrating a new blockchain platform based on R3 Corda technology for use in the syndicated loans market.

For its part, Porsche’s manufacturing arm began testing blockchain apps for its vehicles this February, claiming to be “the first automobile manufacturer to implement and successfully test blockchain in a car.”

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Seven EU States Sign Declaration to Promote Blockchain Use

During an EU meeting, seven southern EU member states released a declaration asking for help in the promotion of blockchain.

Seven southern European Union member states have released a declaration calling for help in the promotion of Distributed Ledger Technology’s (DLT) use in the region, the Financial Times (FT) reports Dec. 4.

The declaration was reportedly initiated by Malta and signed by six other member states, France, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain and Greece, during a meeting of EU transport ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.

The participating governments explained that DLT –– one type of which is blockchain –– could be a “game changer” for southern EU economies.

Namely, the document cites “education, transport, mobility, shipping, Land Registry, customs, company registry, and healthcare” as services which can be “transformed” by this technology. The group also cites blockchain tech’s use for protecting citizens’ privacy and making bureaucratic procedures more efficient.  

The report further notes that this technology has potential beyond digital government services:

“This can result not only in the enhancement of e-government services but also increased transparency and reduced administrative burdens, better customs collection and better access to public information.”

In mid-November, a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, Benoit Coeure, declared that he considers Bitcoin the “evil spawn of the [2008] financial crisis.”

Also in November, banking groups BBVA and Banco Santander joined the EU International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications (IATBA), Cointelegraph reported. The association itself is set to be launched Q1 2019 and aims to develop blockchain infrastructure and standards.

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Global Retail Giant Auchan Expands Blockchain Tracking Solution to Five More Countries

French retail giant Auchan has expanded its blockchain products’ traceability solution after successful a 18-month pilot in Vietnam.

Global retail giant Auchan is expanding TE-FOOD’s blockchain solution to improve the transparency of products’ history, U.S.-based news agency Cision PRWeb reports today, Dec. 4.

The French retail group, which is reportedly the 13th largest food retailer globally with operations in 17 countries, has extended TE-FOOD’s FoodChain solution to five more countries.

FoodChain is the international traceability information ledger by TE-FOOD, first applied by Auchan in its Vietnam branch. After a 18-month test of TE-FOOD’s blockchain tool in Vietnam, Auchan has now decided to deploy the products’ traceability solution in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Senegal.

The blockchain-powered retail monitoring system provides tracking for selected product categories from farm-to-table, as well as recording food quality data and related logistics information. Auchan consumers are able to check products’ history via their smartphones by scanning the products’ QR codes and getting access to authentic data recorded on FoodChain.

According to the article, TE-FOOD’s blockchain solution implemented by Auchan is reportedly the world’s largest farm-to-table food traceability program in Vietnam, with over 6,000 clients including major global food giants such as AEON, CP Group, Lotte Mart, and others.

In mid-November, another French retail giant Carrefour revealed it was implementing a blockchain-enabled food tracking platform powered by Hyperledger for tracing poultry in Spain.

Earlier in September, U.S. retail giant Walmart and its division Sam’s Club, a membership-only retail warehouse club, also announced that they will require suppliers of leafy greens to deploy farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain.

In late November, a fintech expert predicted that market value of blockchain in global retail will see a 29-fold increase in value in the next 10 years.

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Spanish Left-Wing Political Coalition Proposes Subcommittee to Study Blockchain, Crypto

Spanish left-wing political coalition Unidos Podemos has called on the state to explore and implement the benefits of blockchain technology, local news agency Europa Press reported August 12.

Podemos, formed from left wing parties Podemos, United Left, Equo and others has suggested that the Spanish government establish a subcommittee responsible for studying the potential of blockchain technology as well cryptocurrency regulation. Alberto Montero, the deputy of the political alliance, has reportedly registered the request in the lower house, along with a project plan.

The blockchain-focused body would bring together public administrations, state authorities and public officials, as well as industry experts.

According to a Montero, the initiative aims to explore the “enormous potential” of blockchaint tech in terms of reducing costs of government operations and boosting the level of security for social and economic transactions.

In addition, the alliance has suggested addressing regulatory approaches for cryptocurrency use in Spain. According to the report, digital currencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC) are currently “located in a gray area of ​​regulation.”

The coalition also proposes to base policy on the outcomes of the European Union (EU) Blockchain Observatory and Forum, launched by the European Commission in February 2018.

Unidos Podemos is not the only political organization that has recently suggested blockchain adoption in the country’s government. Earlier this summer, 133 deputies from the Spanish ruling party, Partido Popular (People’s Party), proposed a bill to use blockchain in the public administration of the country.

Recently, two major spanish public institutions, the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) and the Madrid School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSIT-UPM) partnered to apply blockchain for digital copyright management.

In terms of crypto regulation, the Spanish Congress has reportedly indicated unanimous support for a draft regulatory framework to regulate blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies on May 30, 2018. The draft initiative, proposed by People’s Party, suggests that the state cooperates with National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) and the Bank of Spain to coordinate a common regulatory stance on crypto in the broader European context.

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Two Major Spanish Public Institutions to Research Blockchain for Copyright Management

The Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (SGAE) and the Madrid School of Telecommunications Engineering (ETSIT-UPM) announced July 26 a research partnership into implementing blockchain for copyright management in the digital era.

The two institutions have reportedly signed a one-year agreement to carry out collaborative research into building a digital processing platform for copyright management that would use blockchain alongside BigData, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). SGAE president José Miguel Fernández Sastrón outlined the partnership:

“The main lines of research will focus on disruptive technologies that address the challenges posed by the volume, diversity and dynamics of change in the use of content in the contemporary digital environment.”

The platform will reportedly harness these technologies to help protect authors’ musical and audiovisual content in the internet in particular.

The one-year agreement has been signed through the Rogelio Segovia Foundation for the development of telecommunications (Fundetel), and has resulted in the creation of a new SGAE-ETSIT-UPM chair to oversee the joint initiative.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, the government of the autonomous Spanish community of Catalonia has just revealed its own plans for blockchain tech implementation in “all areas” of its public administrative activities by December 2018.

Spain-headquartered Banco Santander has also this month announced the creation of a blockchain research team to look into the technology’s potential to innovate securities trading.