Tag Archives: Million

U.S. announces arrests in $530 million cyber identity fraud scheme
February 7, 2018 6:15 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday announced indictments of 36 people in a global internet identity theft scheme that caused more than $ 530 million in losses to consumers, businesses and financial institutions.

International law enforcement authorities arrested 13 defendants from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia.

“Today’s indictment and arrests mark one of the largest cyberfraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by David Alexander

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China's Leshi says $890 million of debts due this year, shares drop 10 percent
February 5, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Leshi Internet said about 5.62 billion yuan ($ 890 million) of its debts would be due by the end of this year, or almost two-thirds of the company’s total loans and liabilities, sending its shares down for a ninth day.

This is the first time the video-streaming firm – which is battling the fallout from a severe cash crunch at its founder Jia Yueting’s embattled technology conglomerate LeEco – has provided an estimate for its debt in 2018.

Earlier, the company had said that a part of its total loans and financial liabilities of 9.29 billion yuan ($ 1.5 billion)would be due this year, without giving any further details.

Leshi shares plunged by the daily limit of 10 percent on Monday. Nine days of declines, since the stock resumed trading in January after a nine-month suspension, have knocked 37.5 billion yuan off the company’s market capitalization, that is currently at 23.7 billion yuan.

At its peak in 2015, Leshi was valued at 153 billion yuan.

Just last week, Leshi flagged that it expected a loss of 11.6 billion yuan for 2017, more than five times its combined profits since listing on the Shenzhen stock exchange in 2010, due to the ongoing crisis at LeEco.

LeEco was once China’s Netflix-to-Tesla contender but ran into a cash crunch since late 2016 after expanding too fast. Leshi used to be the main listed unit of the conglomerate.

But under the control of property developer Sunac China – its second-largest shareholder, Leshi is now trying to distance itself from the LeEco brand.

Leshi says its largest shareholder Jia and related LeEco units owe it 7.5 billion yuan ($ 1.19 billion). LeEco disputes the figure.

Shares of Sunac plunged as much as 6 percent, lagging a nearly 2 percent fall for the benchmark index.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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South Korea says uncovered about $600 million in cryptocurrency crimes
January 31, 2018 6:14 am|Comments (0)

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea has uncovered illegal cryptocurrency foreign exchange trading worth nearly $ 600 million, a sign authorities are tightening the regulatory screws on the digital asset that many global policymakers consider to be opaque and risky.

The country’s customs service said in a statement on Wednesday that about 637.5 billion won ($ 596.02 million) worth of foreign exchange crimes were detected.

“Customs service have been closely looking at illegal foreign exchange trading using cryptocurrency as part of the government’s task force,” it said, underscoring stepped-up efforts by Seoul to crack down on illegal trade in the digital asset.

Illegal foreign currency trading of 472.3 billion formed the bulk of the cryptocurrency crimes, Customs said, but gave no details on what action authorities were taking against the rule breaches.

South Korea has adopted a tough stance on regulating cryptocurrency trading as many locals, including students and housewives, jumped into a frenzied market despite warnings from policy makers around the world of a bubble.

Effective from Jan. 30, authorities will allow only real-name bank accounts to be used for cryptocurrency trading designed to stop virtual coins from being used for money laundering and other crimes.

Among other breaches, Customs said there were also cases where investors in Japan sent their yen worth 53.7 billion won to their partners in South Korea for illegal currency trade.

It said authorities will continue to monitor for any violations of foreign exchange rules or of money laundering activities.

Seoul previously said that it is considering shutting down local cryptocurrency exchanges, which threw the market into turmoil and hammered bitcoin prices. Officials later clarified that an outright ban is only one of the steps being considered, and a final decision was yet to be made.

Bitcoin stood at $ 9,800.00 as of 0502 GMT on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange. The heightened regulatory scrutiny around the world, however, has seen bitcoin dive about 31 percent so far this month, on track for its biggest monthly decline since December 2013.

Cryptocurrencies got another jolt last week after Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck said hackers stole over $ 500 million in one of the world’s biggest cyber heists.

($ 1 = 1,069.6000 won)

Reporting by Dahee Kim and Cynthia Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam

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Hacked Tokyo cryptocurrency exchange to repay owners $425 million
January 28, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck Inc said on Sunday it would return about 46.3 billion yen ($ 425 million) of the virtual money it lost to hackers two days ago in one of the biggest-ever thefts of digital money.

That amounts to nearly 90 percent of the 58 billion yen worth of NEM coins the company lost in an attack that forced it to suspend on Friday withdrawals of all cryptocurrencies except bitcoin.

Coincheck said in a statement it would repay the roughly 260,000 owners of NEM coins in Japanese yen, though it was still working on timing and method.

The theft underscores security and regulatory concerns about bitcoin and other virtual currencies even as a global boom in them shows little signs of fizzling.

Two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) sent a notice to the country’s roughly 30 firms that operate virtual currency exchanges to warn of further possible cyber-attacks, urging them to step up security.

The financial watchdog is also considering administrative punishment for Coincheck under the financial settlements law, one of the sources said.

Japan started to require cryptocurrency exchange operators to register with the government only in April 2017. Pre-existing operators such as Coincheck have been allowed to continue offering services while awaiting approval. Coincheck’s application, submitted in September, is still pending.

Coincheck told a late-Friday news conference that its NEM coins were stored in a “hot wallet” instead of the more secure “cold wallet”, outside the internet. Asked why, company President Koichiro Wada cited technical difficulties and a shortage of staff capable of dealing with them.

In 2014, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, which once handled 80 percent of the world’s bitcoin trades, filed for bankruptcy after losing around half a billion dollars worth of bitcoins. More recently, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit last month shut down and filed for bankruptcy after being hacked twice last year.

World leaders meeting in Davos last week issued fresh warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrencies, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin relating Washington’s concern about the money being used for illicit activity.

Reporting by Takahiko Wada and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Stephen Coates

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The Brutally Honest Advice that Inspired RXBAR to Become a $600 Million Company
January 2, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

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Exclusive: FCC plans to fine Sinclair $13.3 million over undisclosed commercials
December 15, 2017 6:04 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine Sinclair Broadcasting Corp $ 13.3 million after it failed to properly disclose that paid programming that aired on local TV stations was sponsored by a cancer institute, three people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The proposed fine, which covers about 1,700 spots including commercials that looked like news stories that aired during newscasts for the Utah-based Huntsman Cancer Institute over a six-month period in 2016, could bolster critics of Sinclair’s proposed $ 3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co.

Sinclair Broadcasting and a spokesman for the FCC declined to comment. Sinclair, which has told reporters previously the violations were unintentional, disclosed the investigation in financial filings.

Sinclair, which owns more than 170 U.S. television stations and is the largest U.S. operator, announced plans in May to acquire Tribune’s 42 TV stations in 33 markets as well as cable network WGN America and digital multicast network Antenna TV, extending its reach to 72 percent of American households. The FCC and Justice Department are reviewing Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune.

The proposed fine, which was approved by the five-member FCC earlier this week but has not yet been made public, is significant, officials said. The penalty represents an average fine of about $ 7,700 for each of the improperly aired spots but is significantly less than the maximum fine Sinclair could have faced under the law.

Sinclair will have the opportunity to respond to the proposed fine before it becomes final.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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Tech firm raises $118 million in virtual coin offer to fund blockchain phone
December 14, 2017 12:42 pm|Comments (0)

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Swiss-Israeli technology firm Sirin Labs said on Thursday it had raised $ 118 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) to support the development of an open source blockchain smartphone.

Moshe Hogeg, co-founder and president of British-Israeli start-up, Sirin Labs AG, manufacturers of Solarin, a mobile device with unprecedented levels of technology and security, speaks during an interview with Reuters at their offices in Tel Aviv, Israel May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – S1BETHKDEGAB

ICOs allow startups founded on cryptocurrency technologies such as blockchain to quickly raise capital by issuing virtual tokens to investors.

Such offerings have become more common in the past year, but Europe’s top markets regulator warned last month they were “extremely risky and highly speculative investments.”

Sirin, which has recruited soccer superstar Lionel Messi to be its brand ambassador, said it had raised the money from 5,600 people globally within the first 24 hours and would continue the offering for another 12 days.

“These are our potential clients. We think they will be the first to buy the phones,” Moshe Hogeg, CEO and founder of Sirin, told reporters.

The ICO will help fund its secure blockchain phone, as well as a blockchain personal computer. The company said the phone, which should be on the market near the end of next year, benefits from enhanced security and the ability to carry out fee-less transactions.

Hogeg said his target had been to raise $ 75 million – the amount needed to develop the phone. The additional funds will enable the company to increase its production and invest more in sales and marketing.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch and Tova Cohen; Editing by Mark Potter

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Lyft raises another $500 million in additional round of funding
November 23, 2017 12:06 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Uber rival Lyft Inc is raising an additional $ 500 million in funding, according to a U.S. share authorization document filed in Delaware news website Axios said. (bit.ly/2BhebbU)

The additional funding round, led by Alphabet Inc’s CapitalG, is an extension of the $ 1 billion round announced in October.

Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin, confirming the funding round, in an e-mailed statement said, “Increasing the potential for this round will allow us to further accelerate our commitment to serving passengers and drivers.”

In October Lyft had said that the previous round of funding boosted its valuation to $ 11 billion from $ 7.5 billion. The fresh funding would raise its valuation to $ 11.5 billion.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S in BengaluruEditing by Greg Mahlich

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EU orders Amazon to repay $295 million in Luxembourg back taxes
October 4, 2017 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Amazon (AMZN.O) on Wednesday was told to pay about 250 million euros ($ 294.38 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg, the latest U.S. tech company to be caught up in a European Union crackdown on unfair tax deals.

The fine was much lower than some sources close to the case had expected and is only a fraction of the 13 billion euros that Apple Inc APPL.O was ordered to pay to Ireland last year.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has other big U.S. tech companies in her sights, has taken a tough line on multinational companies’ approach to tax.

“Luxembourg gave illegal tax benefits to Amazon. As a result, almost three quarters of Amazon’s profits were not taxed,” Vestager said.

Amazon said it was considering an appeal.

“We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law,” Amazon said in a statement after the announcement.

Though the EU has taken on several U.S. tech companies, both in antitrust and in tax avoidance cases, Vestager said that her approach was not biased against foreign companies

“This is about competition in Europe, no matter your flag, no matter you ownership,” Vestager said.

She also welcomed the debate kicked off by French President Emmanuel Macron who called for more integrated corporate tax regimes in Europe, aiming to close the loopholes used to reduce tax bills.

The Commission said the exact amount of tax to be reclaimed from Amazon would still need to be calculated by Luxembourg authorities.

The 250 million euros is significantly less than the 400 million euros which sources close to the matter told Reuters a year ago was under consideration by Vestager.

The Commission said Luxembourg allowed Amazon to channel a significant portion of its profits to a holding company without paying tax. The holding company was allowed to do this because it held certain intellectual property rights.

“The Commission’s investigation showed that the level of the royalty payments, endorsed by the tax ruling, was inflated and did not reflect economic reality,” the Commission said in a statement.

Amazon, which employs 1,500 in the grand duchy, is one of the biggest employers in the country of half a million people. The U.S. company, which has a Europe-wide staff of some 50,000, in 2016 made a $ 2.4 billion profit on global revenues of $ 136 billion.

Amazon’s corporate set up with subsidies in Luxembourg construction was also subject of a $ 1.5 billion court case with U.S. tax authorities, which Amazon won in March.

Luxembourg, whose tiny economy has benefited from providing a European base for multinational companies, rejected the finding and said it was looking at its legal options.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was prime minister of Luxembourg for almost two decades until 2013 and has been criticized for his role in enabling the many tax deals which are now being unraveled. He denies doing anything wrong and says the Commission is committed to ensuring fair taxation.

In 2014, Luxembourg made international headlines in the wake of the publication of “LuxLeaks”, documents which showed how large accounting firms helped multinational companies channel proceeds through the country while paying little or no tax.

Luxembourg is also under EU scrutiny over tax deals with fast food chain McDonald’s (MCD.N) and French energy company Engie (ENGIE.PA). Luxembourg has appealed against a ruling in 2015 that carmaker Fiat (FCHA.MI) should pay it back taxes. As well as Ireland, tax for multinationals in Belgium and the Netherlands have also come under Commission scrutiny.

Vestager also said on Wednesday that she was taking the Irish government to court for failing to recoup the taxes from Apple which she had ordered over a year ago. [L8N1MF25V]

Amazon revamped its European tax practices in 2015 so that it can book sales and pay taxes in Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy instead of channeling all sales through Luxembourg where it is headquartered, a move which may raise its tax bill.

($ 1 = 0.8493 euros)

Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Jane Merriman

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Facebook and Google got scammed out of $100 million
April 28, 2017 5:25 pm|Comments (0)

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A 48-year-old Lithuanian man named Evaldas Rimasauskas managed to defraud internet giants Facebook and Google of $ 100 million over a span of two years, according to Fortune and the United States Department of Justice. How’d he do it? A little email phishing, of course.

Rimasauskas set up several accounts in Latvia and Cyprus under the name of an Asian “computer hardware manufacturer” that does business with the search giant and the social giant, according to the Justice Department. Then he set up fake email accounts pretending to be representatives of the hardware company. He used those fake accounts to request money from Google and Facebook, who wired cash his way. That kind of cash may have caused some raised eyebrows at the banks into which Rimasauskas funneled the money, but he “forged invoices, contracts, and letters that falsely appeared to have been executed and signed by executives and agents” of Google and Facebook, according to the Justice Department. Read more…

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