Chileans Take Refuge in Stablecoins Amid Economic Turmoil ~ August 12, 2022


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Marina Lammertyn

August 3, 2022·5 min read

In this article:

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Accustomed to living in the most stable economy in Latin America, residents of Chile are turning to stablecoins to protect their assets from recent record inflation and the increasing devaluation of the peso. Local crypto exchanges have seen a 50% increase in stablecoin transactions in the last three months.

CryptoMarket, a Chile-based exchange with 200,000 users in the country, registered a 50% increase in purchases of the two most commonly used stablecoins, tether (USDT) and USD coin (USDC), during the second quarter of 2022, CryptoMarket Chile country manager Eduardo Pérez de Castro told CoinDesk.

Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency whose value is tied to an outside asset, such as the U.S. dollar or gold, to stabilize the price. USDT and USDC are pegged 1:1 to the U.S. dollar.

“Today, stablecoins represent 30% of users’ total purchases, and what they mostly choose to buy if it is their first time using the platform,” Pérez de Castro added.

Buda.com, which in 2015 was one of the first crypto exchanges to launch in Chile, has also seen increasing interest in stablecoins. Stablecoin market share on the platform rose from 11% in June up to 20% in July. USDC, which has been on the platform for less than a year, is the third-most-traded currency after bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH).

Read more: Chilean Digital Peso Would Need to Work Offline, Central Bank Governor Says

“We see this as a huge trend and something users are taking as an opportunity to buy U.S. dollars easily without having to go to a bank or exchange house,” said Jazmín Jorquera, chief operating officer at Buda, which has more than 500,000 users and operations in Chile, Argentina, Peru and Colombia.

Stablecoin’s increasing use is tied to Chile’s faltering macroeconomic situation. In June, the country’s year-to-year inflation rose to 12.5%, the highest record in 28 years. One month later, its peso currency hit a record low of 1,045 per U.S. dollar, dropping 3.7% in one day and forcing the central bank to make a $25 billion intervention in the foreign exchange market to stop a higher devaluation.

When the FBI Framed Four Innocent Men ~ August 12, 2022


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This is the story of how the FBI framed four innocent men for murder, destroyed families, and tried to cover it up. It’s also the story of the convergence of John Durham and Robert Mueller: how Durham uncovered the FBI’s crimes and how Robert Mueller’s FBI disputed the innocence of the men the FBI framed.

And how John Durham uncovered shocking FBI crimes

The FBI knocked and Mike Albano opened the door. It was 1983. As a member of the Massachusetts State Parole Board, Albano thought he had been doing his job when he looked into voting to commute the sentence of Peter Limone, who along with Joseph Salvati, Henry Tameleo, and Louis Greco, had been convicted for the murder of Teddy Deegan in 1965.

Those convictions never sat right with Albano – he was savvy to Massachusetts and the ties between the Mob and law enforcement. His suspicions of the convictions, and sympathy for the four men, only grew when he met with Greco, who proclaimed his innocence and said “he wanted to live one day as a free man, just one day.”1

FBI special agents John Morris and John Connolly weren’t there just say hello or to discuss the details of the case (a state case, not a federal case). There was a darker purpose: straight-up intimidation. The FBI agents let it be known, in no uncertain terms, that it wouldn’t be good for Albano’s career if he voted for commutation.

To Albano’s credit, he voted to commute the sentence of Limone. This particular petition for commutation (Limone filed six in total that were all rejected) was denied by Governor Michael Dukakis after the FBI and then-U.S. Attorney Bill Weld put on the pressure, alleging that Limone was guilty of the Deegan murder, had been involved in commissioning the murder of Joseph “The Animal” Barboza, and would return with seniority to Boston’s organized crime structure if he was freed.

The Parole Board also voted in favor of two commutation petitions by Greco. The first was denied by Governor Michael Dukakis, the second denied by Governor Bill Weld. There was no ruling on the third commutation petition filed by Greco in 1995. He died soon after it was submitted. Greco’s plea to Albano, that he live “just one day” as a free man, was never granted.

To understand this case and the FBI’s efforts to intimidate Albano, you have to go back to the 1960s. J. Edgar Hoover was the FBI Director and made it a focus of his to take down La Cosa Nostra – the Italian Mob – by any means necessary. To achieve this goal the FBI used criminal informants.

The Teddy Deegan Murder

Teddy Deegan was murdered on the night of March 12, 1965 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, just north of Boston. His body was found in an alley behind the Lincoln National Bank. He had on gloves and a screwdriver was found near his left hand. A tool of his trade. The lieutenant who arrived at the scene described a fresh pool of blood near his left knee and blood “still oozing from the rear of his head.” In all, Deegan was shot 6 times with three different guns.

Not So Honorable: Docs Show Mueller's FBI Denied Justice To Four Innocent  Men | The Daily Caller

The officers who recognized Deegan there lying in the alley wouldn’t have been surprised. He kept company with hoods and criminals and mobsters, and behaved the part. They didn’t expect Deegan’s murder, but it was always a risk of Deegan’s associations.

Arrests are made.

Four men – Limone, Greco, Salvati, and Tameleo – were accused of Deegan’s murder.

Peter Limone was arrested on October 27, 1967. That was also the day of his tenth wedding anniversary and it was spent in jail away from his wife, Olympia, with whom he had four young children. He was supposed to meet Olympia that evening for a meeting at their sons’ school. He never showed up.

Louis Greco surrendered to the FBI in Miami, having been in Florida at the time of the murder, and was extradited to Massachusetts in 1968. He too was married and had a couple young children. He was also a war hero, having served in the South Pacific in the Army during World War II. He had returned from the war “disabled for life with a shattered ankle.” For his service he had been awarded a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.

Joseph Salvati was 34 when he was arrested. Like Limone, he also had four young children. Henry Tameleo was the oldest of the four men. He was born in 1901 and had been married to his wife since 1919.

The Trial and Convictions

The state murder trial started on May 27, 1968. Joseph Barboza, an FBI informant, testified that Limone and Tameleo approved the “hit” on Deegan, that Salvati was there with them, and that Greco helped plan the killing.

Not that Barboza was innocent – he was indicted for a misdemeanor relating to the murder and was serving time for possessing an illegal firearm. This was supposedly part of a deal the FBI gave Barboza: testify for the Massachusetts government in the murder trial and they’d let the judge know the extent and materiality of his assistance. Leniency was a near-certainty.

Anthony Stathopoulos, Jr. had also been at the scene. He testified Greco – or a man who looked like Greco – wanted to get him as well. Other witnesses testified to guilt-indicating conduct by the defendants. For example, it was alleged that Tameleo and Greco tried to bribe Barboza and Stathopoulos to change their testimony.

The defense had an uphill battle. Their lawyers suspected that the FBI might have information or documents relating to the witnesses or Deegan’s murder. But the FBI produced nothing.

The jury reached its verdict on July 31, 1968. The four men were found guilty: Greco for murder in the first degree, Limone and Tameleo for accessories before the fact, Salvati for being an accessory after the fact, and all them for conspiracy to murder Deegan and Stathopoulos.

Limone, Tameleo, and Greco received the death penalty. Salvati was sentenced to life.2 The convictions were brought to the attention of Director Hoover, with the Boston office sending memos citing the Suffolk County District Attorney’s comments that the prosecution was a “direct result of FBI investigation” and witness development.

The FBI agents involved in the case (and who testified in support of their witness) were recommended awards and letters of commendation. They later received large bonuses for their efforts and were even praised by FBI Director Hoover, who was satisfied to see the FBI with the convictions.

The Families

The families of the four men were devastated by the news. They had been distraught since the arrests – but at least with a trial they had hope things would work out in their favor. Now their husbands, their fathers, were facing execution.

It was hard for the wives but the children had it worse. The taunts at school that their father was a murderer. Going through cold prison gates and being frisked just to spend their birthdays with their father. An empty seat at sporting events and recitals. A boy’s nightmares of his father’s electrocution. A girl’s anxiety of missing her dad.

Henry Tameleo was the oldest of the four (aged 66 at the time of imprisonment) and his health was rapidly failing. The prison board and his doctors recommended he be transferred due to his health – these requests were ignored for years. He remained in prison a “sick, lonely old man” struggling with depression. His wife died in 1979. They had been married approximately 60 years; the last 10 years spent apart. He wasn’t there to hold her hand as she passed.

As bad as all of that is – and it is bad – the Greco family took it the worst. Greco and his wife Roberta had two sons (Eddie and Louis Jr.) who were 10 and 12, respectively, when their father was taken away. After Greco’s conviction, his son Eddie – at just 10 years old – contemplated suicide. In his own words, he wanted to “take a plastic bag and kill myself. . . I was putting plastic bags around my head.”

The boys’ mother Roberta stopped cooking and cleaning, and took up drinking and beating the kids. Eddie would go to school hungry. One day in 1970 Eddie came home to find their mother had abandoned them. They lived with family until they were thrown out. Eddie was 13 and Louis Jr. was 15 when they were put out on their own.

Greco’s health suffered the same fate as his family on the outside: deterioration. While Greco (and the other two defendants put on death row) was spared execution due to the termination of the death penalty in Massachusetts, he had always been sentenced to death – it was just a matter of time. His health began failing and he was ultimately unable to do most anything without assistance. He lost control of his bowels and Salvati helped clean up after him. Greco’s right leg was amputated below the knee in 1995 due to gangrene. He died in prison on December 30, 1995.

Approximately two years later his son and namesake, Louis Jr., committed suicide by drinking a can of Drano. His other son Eddie struggled with cocaine and heroin addiction. He would eventually die from a likely overdose.

What the FBI knew.

There were FBI secrets about these convictions for 30+ years. These secrets went all the way up to FBI Director Hoover, and were uncovered in late 2000 by then-Assistant US Attorney John Durham: that the FBI had framed four innocent men for murder. This set-up was “known to, supported by, encouraged, and facilitated by the FBI hierarchy all the way up to the FBI Director.”3

To understand the FBI conspiracy, we have to go back to the 1960s and FBI Director Hoover’s efforts to take down La Cosa Nostra- the Italian Mob – by any means necessary.

Part of that task involved focusing on Raymond Patriarca, a powerful New England organized crime boss. In 1962, the FBI installed a wire in Patriarca’s Providence, New England office without a warrant. The conversations were monitored and forwarded to agents in the FBI’s Boston office. This was kept secret even within the FBI. Per Judge Gertner, “FBI reports describing conversations on the wire referred to it as if it were a human source, an informant just like any other.”

The FBI also made use of informants, with whom their agents were have a secret and long-term relationship. Enter Jimmy Flemmi, a career criminal and top FBI informant. The FBI had known of Flemmi’s criminal history – and knew that Flemmi had been involved in a number of murders. Condon, one of the agents handling Flemmi, had been informed in 1964 and early 1965 that Flemmi had committed several murders. This didn’t matter to FBI Agent Dennis Condon, his Boston FBI supervisor, or even to Director Hoover. He could get close to Patriarca and other mob figures and, therefore, had potential.

Jimmy Flemmi was eventually closed as an informant in the fall of 1965. His brother, Stephen Flemmi, began informing for the FBI not long after. Like Jimmy, Stephen was a career criminal, gangster, and killer.

The FBI’s Knowledge of the Plot to Kill Deegan

The wires and informants against Patricia were well underway by 1965. In October 1964, the FBI learned on two occasions that Jimmy Flemmi wanted to kill Deegan. Director Hoover had been updated on these developments.4

Five months later, in early March 1965, Jimmy Flemmi met with Patriarca and asked for permission to execute Deegan. A couple days later Flemmi returned with Joseph Barboza and asked for the “OK” to kill him. Flemmi thought Deegan was “an arrogant, nasty sneak and should be killed.”5

Two days prior to Deegan’s murder, on March 10, 1965, an informant advised the FBI that Raymond Patriarca, a powerful New England organized crime boss, had ordered a “hit” on Deegan. They had already completed a dry run and “a close associate of Deegan’s has agreed to set him up.” The FBI knew it was coming.

Deegan was executed on March 12, 1965. This was the same day that one of his killers, Jimmy Flemmi, was assigned to be developed as an informant.6

The FBI Protected the Real Killers.

The FBI never doubted who killed Teddy Deegan. The day after the murder, an FBI informant reported that Jimmy Flemmi confessed to the killing along with Roy French, Joseph Romeo Martin, Ronnie Cassesso, and Joseph Barboza. Approximately three months later, Director Hoover was informed that Flemmi had participated in the murder. 

The FBI was able to put together exactly how the murder was supposed to go down. After the hit was approved by Patriarca, the men planned to kill Deegan when he and an associate (who was also to be killed) were robbing a place in Chelsea. French was to tip the killers off to the time and location.

Deegan’s death had the criminal world talking. On March 13, 1965 (the day after the murder), a top FBI informant reported that Jimmy Flemmi confessed to murder along with French, Romeo, Martin, Cassesso, and Barboza.

“That account would be repeated over and over with minor variations in every single document the FBI had” before Barboza started cooperating.7 Other accounts supported that theory of the Deegan murder. For example, the Chelsea police had information that the men had been seen leaving a restaurant together at approximately 9 p.m. and returning 45 minutes later.  Other informants came forward. Eleven days after Deegan’s murder, on March 23, 1965, it was reported to the FBI that Barboza admitted to the killing. The memo below shows that Director Hoover was informed that the FBI’s own informants had murdered Deegan.

This information wasn’t shared with state authorities or the defense counsel of the accused. As a result, this really became a criminal conspiracy by the FBI hierarchy – all the way up to Director Hoover.

Durham Starts the Bulger Review

In 1995, information of Whitey Bulger’s relationship with corrupt FBI agents became public, leading to an investigation of the FBI’s Boston field office. This included a review of documents relating to Limone’s case.

In late 2000, then-Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham uncovered FBI memos from the 1960s detailing FBI misconduct in this case, providing them to the DOJ, US Attorney’s Office, the defendants and state prosecutors, and the FBI. As a result, “the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office immediately filed a motion to vacate Limone’s conviction, to grant Limone a new trial, and admit him to bail.

Judge Margaret Hinkle of Suffolk Superior Court ruled that the Durham documents were material, exculpatory, and cast ‘real doubt’ on the justice of Limone’s convictions.”8 The state cases against Salvati and Limone – the only two still alive – were dropped. (Greco and Tameleo had died in prison; their cases were posthumously dropped.)

Mueller

Once Durham uncovered these documents, the Massachusetts Pardon Board reached out to FBI Director Mueller, asking about the FBI’s official response to the exculpatory evidence. The Boston Field Office provided a shameful response that the new evidence of an FBI set-up did not mean that the men were “innocent – it merely means that they are entitled to a new trial.”

The Lawsuit and Aftermath

Eventually, the surviving men and their families, along with the families of the deceased Greco and Tameleo, filed suit against the FBI. Not only did the FBI refuse to admit the truth – that these men were innocent – but the FBI also obstructed their civil rights trial. It turned out that the FBI had been hiding evidence from their own lawyers. This caused Judge Gertner to order that “this matter be brought to the personal attention of the Director of the FBI [Robert Mueller].”

After a bench trial, Judge Gertner concluded this case was “about intentional misconduct, subornation of perjury, conspiracy, the framing of four innocent men.” She awarded the men and their families over $100 million in damages.

For the wrongly convicted and their families, this would never be enough.

Meanwhile, the FBI headquarters is still called the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building. Mueller enjoys, at least with some, a good reputation despite his small but significant part in this saga. And Durham – now Special Counsel – still quietly looks for the truth.

ECB can’t go bankrupt even it suffers losses ~ August 12, 2022


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Editor’s Note: Well, well, well… isn’t that what they said about the Titanic? Just sayin…

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank could “neither go bankrupt nor run out of money” even if it were to suffer losses on the multi-trillion-euro pile of bonds it has bought under its stimulus programmes, ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Thursday.

“As the sole issuer of euro-denominated central bank money, the Eurosystem will always be able to generate additional liquidity as needed,” Lagarde said in response to a question by an Italian member of the European Parliament.

“So, by the definition, it will neither go bankrupt nor run out of money. In addition to that, any financial losses, should they occur, would not impair our ability to seek and maintain price stability.

Responding to a question, Lagarde added that there is no legal basis for the ECB to cancel the government debt it owns.

Reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Balazs Koranyi

Australia’s Central Bank Working With BIS To Launch Digital Currency System ~ August 12, 2022


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Australia’s Reserve Bank is launching a pilot program over the course of the next year in collaboration with the Bank for International Settlements (the central bank of central banks) to test the “benefits” of a blockchain ledger based digital currency system.  The central bank is added to a long list of participants in BIS efforts to introduce CBDCs (central bank digital currencies) with the target goal of launching them globally by 2025-2030.

It’s important to note that substantial economic changes would have to occur within the next few years in order to make CBDC a viable option for the general public.  Though many people use electronic transactions as a matter of convenience, a large portion of the population still prefers cash.  In the US, surveys within the last few years show that at least 37% of Americans still choose cash over other methods of payment like credit and debit cards.  In Australia, the number stands at around 32%.  

The usage of digital payment systems also does not necessarily denote a societal shift away from the idea of cash, it only shows a preference for convenience.  People still like to know that cash exists as an option if they need it or want it, but central banks are working diligently to remove physical cash as a choice within the next 8 years.  

CBDCs, much like all blockchain based currency mechanisms, are inherently devoid of privacy.  By it’s very design, blockchain tech requires a ledger of transactions than can be tracked by governments if they so choose.  Physical cash, though fiat in nature, is at least anonymous.  

With the advent of widespread CBDCs the very notion of privacy in trade would utterly disappear from society within a generation.  Not only that, but if these currencies are tied into a social credit system like the one used in communist China, then there is a good chance governments will be able to freeze accounts or even erase your savings at the push of a button.  And, without physical cash there would be no recourse for trade.  A person deemed “problematic” could be locked out of the economy on a whim.    

The fact that the BIS is so heavily involved in national digital currency programs suggests that the ultimate goal of CBDCs will be an eventual global digital currency – A one world currency mechanism that all other digital currencies are eventually absorbed into.   This collaboration extends to the IMF and World Bank as well. 

With so many physical currencies in use around the world and at least 30% of each western nation preferring cash, there is little chance that central banks will be able to force the issue of CBDCs unless there is an economic downturn or crash that inspires a public outcry for alternatives to existing currencies.  Meaning, banking elites will need a crisis that damages the very buying power of multiple currency systems in order to get people accept an aggressive shift to a cashless society before 2030.

The pitfalls of such a framework are many and the potential for abuse goes far beyond the idea of fiat printing.  CBDCs would give banks and governments ultimate power of influence over the populace, inspiring fear in individuals as they consider the threat that their access to the economy could be severed at any moment should they say or do anything in defiance of the authorities.

Banks and politicians will try to sell CBDCs as the pinnacle of convenience and a necessary transition in order to stabilize the economy.  What they will not mention is the pervasive level of control they will gain in the process.    

JPMorgan Gold Traders Found Guilty After Long Spoofing Trial


JPMorgan Gold Traders Found Guilty After Long Spoofing Trial

(Bloomberg) — The former head of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. precious-metals business and his top gold trader were convicted in Chicago on charges they manipulated markets for years, handing the US government a win in its long crackdown on bogus “spoofing” orders.

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Michael Nowak and Gregg Smith were found guilty Wednesday by a federal jury after a three-week trial and more than eight days of deliberations. Prosecutors presented evidence that included detailed trading records, chat logs and testimony by former co-workers who “pulled back the curtain” on how Nowak and Smith moved precious-metals prices up and down for profit from 2008 to 2016.

A third defendant, Jeffrey Ruffo, who was a salesman on the bank’s precious-metals desk, was acquitted of charges he participated in the conspiracy.

The case was the biggest yet in a crackdown by the US Justice Department. Nowak, the managing director in charge of the desk, and Smith, its top trader, were convicted of fraud, spoofing, market manipulation. The government alleged the precious-metals business at JPMorgan was run as a criminal enterprise, though the jury acquitted all three men of a separate racketeering charge.

“They had the power to move the market, the power to manipulate the worldwide price of gold,” prosecutor Avi Perry said during closing arguments.

US District Court Judge Edmond Chang said Nowak and Smith will be sentenced next year. Each faces decades in prison, though it may be far less. Two Deutsche Bank AG traders convicted of spoofing in 2020 were each sentenced to a year in prison.