Randall Crater's Fraud Sentence Upheld & ENS Secures Back eth.link

The legal landscape in the crypto space evolves as Randall Crater's fraud conviction is affirmed and the Ethereum Name Service wins back the eth.link domain after a lengthy dispute.

Randall Crater, the founder of My Big Coin, has had his fraud conviction upheld by an appellate court. In a separate development, the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) resolved a legal dispute over the eth.link domain with Manifold Finance, leading to a settlement that allows ENS Labs to retain ownership. This resolution came after an 18-month legal battle and a big community vote in favor of the settlement. Meanwhile, OANDA, a U.S.-based crypto brokerage, is expanding its services to the U.K. through its subsidiary, OANDA Crypto, after acquiring a majority stake in Coinpass. This move is part of OANDA's strategic expansion despite very strict regulatory frameworks in the U.K. regarding crypto advertising and operations.

Crypto Founder Randall Crater's Fraud Conviction Affirmed

Randall Crater, the founder of the cryptocurrency project My Big Coin, has had his fraud conviction upheld by an appellate court, leading to a sentence of more than eight years in prison. The ruling came from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, where a three-judge panel affirmed Crater's conviction on charges that include wire fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business. Crater's legal team's arguments for a new trial, based on alleged Sixth Amendment rights violations, were dismissed by the court.

Crater launched My Big Coin in 2013, misleadingly promoting it as a crypto payment service. His fraudulent activities, which ran from 2014 to 2017, defrauded 55 victims of about $7.6 billion by falsely claiming that the platform's tokens were backed by gold and that the firm had a partnership with Mastercard. The Justice Department filed criminal charges against him in February of 2019, leading to his conviction and subsequent sentencing in January of 2023. Crater has been ordered to pay over $7.6 million in restitution to the victims.

As most people in the crypto space are aware of, this case is part of a broader trend of U.S. authorities pursuing criminal charges against well known people in the cryptocurrency sector, including former CEOs of Binance, Celsius, and FTX.

ENS Wins Back eth.link

Meanwhile, the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) developer has recently concluded a legal and ownership dispute over the eth.link domain by reaching a settlement with Manifold Finance. This agreement comes after the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) behind ENS voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $300,000 settlement, which allows ENS Labs to maintain ownership of the eth.link domain. Approximately 88% of the vote was in favor of the settlement, while 84% supported a $750,000 reimbursement for ENS Labs' legal expenses incurred during the dispute.

The conflict, which lasted for 18 months, began when ENS Labs initiated legal action against Manifold and the domain registrars GoDaddy and Dynadot in an Arizona District Court. The lawsuit aimed to prevent the transfer of the eth.link domain from its possession. This legal battle resulted in a court order favoring ENS Labs, ensuring the domain remained under their control.

The settlement was proposed with terms that included the $300,000 payment from ENS Labs to Manifold, alongside confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses. This agreement effectively dismisses the case, allowing ENS Labs to retain the eth.link domain. ENS founder Nick Johnson shared details of the settlement in a forum post, emphasizing the resolution's benefits for ENS Labs.

ENS operates as a blockchain-based counterpart to the traditional Domain Name System (DNS), facilitating the translation of domain names into IP addresses. The eth.link domain plays a crucial role in enabling .eth ENS-based domains to function seamlessly. The dispute's origins trace back to the expiration of the domain in July of 2022, when Virgil Griffith, an early contributor to ENS who was serving a jail sentence, failed to renew it. Manifold subsequently acquired the domain at auction after it expired and was sold by GoDaddy, leading to the legal confrontation.

The resolution of this dispute not only signifies the end of a prolonged legal battle but also marks a reconciliation between ENS and GoDaddy. Earlier this month, the two entities partnered to offer .eth ENS domain holders the ability to link their domains with traditional ones at no additional cost, indicating a positive outcome from the saga for the broader ENS community.

OANDA Launches Crypto Trading in the UK

In other news, OANDA, a United States-based crypto brokerage firm, is expanding its reach to the United Kingdom through its subsidiary, OANDA Crypto. This move comes after the firm's acquisition of a majority stake in Coinpass, a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)-registered entity, last year. The newly established crypto trading platform is poised to offer trading services for over 63 cryptocurrency pairs, including major tokens like Bitcoin and Ether, with plans to broaden its offerings with more tokens and features in the foreseeable future.

This strategic expansion into the U.K. market by OANDA also comes after its successful initiation of crypto trading services in the U.S., in collaboration with Paxos, and the relocation of its European operations from Malta to Warsaw, Poland. The latter involved acquiring the Polish broker Dom Maklerski TMS Brokers SA, which has since been rebranded to OANDA TMS.

OANDA's decision to venture into regions with stringent regulatory frameworks, now including the United Kingdom, is noteworthy. This comes at a time when several leading crypto companies have scaled back their operations in the U.K. due to the FCA's new regulatory guidelines on crypto advertising, which came into effect in October of 2023. These rules mandate that only FCA-registered virtual asset service providers can advertise in the country and require big adjustments to online platforms to ensure potential customers are adequately warned about investment risks.

The FCA has reported a lot of non-compliance within the crypto sector regarding these new promotion rules, leading to the issuance of 450 consumer alerts against virtual asset companies for illegal promotion activities between October and December 2023. Despite these challenges, OANDA's head of digital assets, Lucian Lauerman, views the U.K. as an educated and active market that aligns with the firm's traditional operational markets.