BitInstant, a New York City based startup that operates an online platform for buying and selling Bitcoins, raises $1.5 million in a seed funding round led by Winklevoss Capital. BitInstant’s full-time staff of 16 led by CEO Charlie Shrem processes approximately 30 percent of the money going into and out of Bitcoin, and last month alone facilitated 30,000 transactions. The Winklevosses say they were attracted to invest in BitInstant in large part because Shrem is the vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, and CIO Alex Waters previously worked with the core developers on the original Satoshi Bitcoin client.
Cameron: Charlie has been in the space for a very long time, and he has an impeccable reputation among Bitcoiners.
Shrem is arrested at JFK airport and charged with money laundering. Shrem, along with a co-conspirator, is accused of selling over $1 million in bitcoins to Silk Road users, who would then use them to buy drugs and other illicit items.According to the criminal complaint, Shrem allegedly also bought drugs on Silk Road. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara:
As alleged, Robert Faiella and Charlie Shrem schemed to sell over $1 million in Bitcoins to criminals bent on trafficking narcotics on the dark web drug site, Silk Road. Truly innovative business models don’t need to resort to old-fashioned law-breaking, and when Bitcoins, like any traditional currency, are laundered and used to fuel criminal activity, law enforcement has no choice but to act. We will aggressively pursue those who would coopt new forms of currency for illicit purposes.”
The Winklevoss twins response:
When we invested in BitInstant in the fall of 2012, its management made a commitment to us that they would abide by all applicable laws – including money laundering laws – and we expected nothing less. Although BitInstant is not named in today’s indictment of Charlie Shrem, we are obviously deeply concerned about his arrest. We were passive investors in BitInstant and will do everything we can to help law enforcement officials. We fully support any and all governmental efforts to ensure that money laundering requirements are enforced, and look forward to clearer regulation being implemented on the purchase and sale of bitcoins.
People own their own bodies, and have the absolute right to put anything they want into it. People like the FBI, and DEA agents who want to lock people in cages for buying, selling, or using drugs are the ones committing evil, and they need to stop. I look forward to the day when they see the error of their ways, and stop committing evil acts in the name of ‘law enforcement’.
The money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. BitInstant is now offline.