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Bitcoin Worth Millions Stolen Days Before US Exchange Opens

Bitcoins worth millions stolen, re-think before you invest in cryptocurrency!

FILE - A bitcoin logo is displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York.

A bitcoin mining company in Slovenia has been hacked for the possible theft of tens of millions of dollars, just days before the virtual currency, which hit a record above $15,000 on Thursday, is due to start trading on major U.S. exchanges.

NiceHash, a company that mines bitcoins on behalf of customers, said it is investigating a security breach and will stop operating for 24 hours while it verifies how many bitcoins were taken.

Research company Coindesk said that a wallet address referred to by NiceHash users indicates that about 4,700 bitcoins had been stolen. At Thursday’s record price of about $15,000, that puts the value at over $70 million.

There was no immediate response from NiceHash to an emailed request for more details.

“The incident has been reported to the relevant authorities and law enforcement and we are cooperating with them as a matter of urgency,” it said. The statement urged users to change their online passwords.

Slovenian police are investigating the case together with authorities in other states, spokesman Bostjan Lindav said, without providing details.

The hack will put a spotlight on the security of bitcoin just as the trading community prepares for the currency to start trading on two established U.S. exchanges. Futures for bitcoin will start trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange on Sunday evening and on crosstown rival CME Group’s platforms later in the month.

That has increased the sense among some investors that bitcoin is gaining in mainstream legitimacy after several countries, like China, tried to stifle the virtual currency.

As a result, the price of bitcoin has jumped in the past year, particularly so in recent weeks. On Thursday it surged to over $15,000, up $1,300 in less than a day, according to Coindesk. At the start of the year, one bitcoin was worth less than $1,000.

Bitcoin is the world’s most popular virtual currency. Such currencies are not tied to a bank or government and allow users to spend money anonymously. They are basically lines of computer code that are digitally signed each time they are traded.

A debate is raging on the merits of such currencies. Some say they serve merely to facilitate money laundering and illicit, anonymous payments. Others say they can be helpful methods of payment, such as in crisis situations where national currencies have collapsed.

Miners of bitcoins and other virtual currencies help keep the systems honest by having their computers keep a global running tally of transactions. That prevents cheaters from spending the same digital coin twice.

Online security is a vital concern for such dealings.

In Japan, following the failure of a bitcoin exchange called Mt. Gox, new laws were enacted to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Mt. Gox shut down in February 2014, saying it lost about 850,000 bitcoins, possibly to hackers.

Ali Zerdin in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Carlo Piovano in London contributes to this story.(VOA)

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New Currency: CBK Insists KICC and Mzee Kenyatta Statue Can’t be Separated

High Court judges on Thursday visited the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) to establish whether Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s statue

Currency, CBK, KICC
High Court judges visit the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) on August 15, 2019.


High Court judges on Thursday visited the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) to establish whether Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s statue at the premises is part of the iconic building.

This follows a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah who is challenging the inclusion of Mzee Kenyatta’s effigy on the new currency.

While the Central Bank of Kenya argues that the statue is part of KICC, Omtatah insists that the two are separate and that inclusion of the statue violates Article 231(4) of the Constitution, which decrees that Kenyan currency bank notes shall not bear the portrait of any individual.

During the Thursday visit to KICC, a three-judge bench measured the distance between the KICC building and Mzee’s statue, establishing that the two are 80 metres apart.

Currency, CBK, KICC
File image of the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC)and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s statue.

It was also brought to the judges attention the two structures were unveiled on separate days.

Founding President Mzee Kenyatta opened KICC on September 10, 1973 while the then Vice President Daniel arap Moi unveiled the statue the following day.

Omtatah maintained that the two are distinct, further submitting that Mzee Kenyatta’s image on the currency is bigger than the statue and hence, its inclusion on the currency appears as a portrait.

On its part, CBK told the court that the two structures can’t be separated.

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“The two features can’t be separated… They are one and the same,” said CBK, further adding: “it is a statue and not a portrait and they stand on the same land number…”

The court will deliver it’s judgement on the September 27, 2019.

Omtatah maintains that by putting a picture of Mzee Kenyatta’s full statue on every new note, the CBK was simply “sneaking in” the late president’s portrait onto the currency.