Bitcoin plunges as crypto giant accused of 'web of deception' – latest updates

The price of Bitcoin plunged after the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and its founder were accused of a “web of deception” by US regulators.

© REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Binance founder and chief executive Changpeng Zhao – REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The largest crypto token lost more than 3pc to fall below £21,000 as Binance and its chief executive Changpeng Zhao faced allegations of misusing investor funds, operating as an unregistered exchange and violating a slew of US securities laws.

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The lawsuit filed by the SEC lists thirteen charges against the crypto trading platform — including mingling and diverting customer assets to an entity Mr Zhao owned called Sigma Chain.

The charges echo accusations levelled at the second largest cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried after its collapse last year.

SEC chairman Gary Gensler in a written statement that Zhao and Binance “engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law”.

He added: “The public should beware of investing any of their hard-earned assets with or on these unlawful platforms.”

In a social media post, Binance said that it has been cooperating with the SEC’s investigation but said that the agency “chose to act unilaterally and litigate.”

Read the latest updates below.

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07:42 AM

Soaring number of public sector workers on benefits, says GMB

The number of public sector workers on Universal Credit has increased by more than 100,000 over the past few years, new research suggests.

A study by the GMB union found that, between the end of 2019 and the end of 2022, the number of public sector workers in receipt of Universal Credit jumped by 119,000.

The union said its analysis of official figures showed that, in the fourth quarter of 2019, 76,803 public sector workers were in receipt of Universal Credit.

By the fourth quarter of 2022, that number had shot up to 195,772, said the union in a report to be published at its annual conference in Brighton today.

GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said: “It’s a stain on the honour of our nation so many public sector staff have to rely on working benefits to get by – NHS staff, care workers, school staff, and the council workers who keep our towns and cities alive.”

07:37 AM

The 33 articles Prince Harry claims Mirror newspapers obtained unlawfully

The Duke of Sussex is due to give evidence at the High Court today in his case against the Daily Mirror’s publisher over alleged unlawful information gathering.

On Monday, Harry’s individual case against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) got under way.

Barrister David Sherborne claimed the Duke was subjected to unlawful information-gathering activity “right from when he was a young boy at school” into adulthood, adding: “Nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds.”

Harry is suing the publisher, claiming journalists at its titles – which also include the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People – were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

MGN is contesting the claims and has either denied or not admitted each of them. The publisher also argues that some of the claimants have brought their legal action too late.

Read on for the 33 articles Prince Harry claims Mirror newspapers obtained unlawfully.

© Julian Simmonds
The Duke of Sussex alleges that 147 articles published between 1996 and 2010 by the Mirror titles contained information gathered using unlawful methods – Julian Simmonds

07:30 AM

Bank Holidays fail to boost shop sales

May’s trio of bank holidays failed to get shoppers spending as sales growth slowed to its lowest level in six months, latest figures show.

Total UK retail sales increased by 3.9pc last month, against a decline of 1.1pc in May 2022 and below the three-month average growth of 4.7pc, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

Food sales were up 9.6pc on a year ago, boosted by the Coronation but still not sustained across the month.

Meanwhile, growth in discretionary spending continued to tumble as the high cost of living squeezed households.

The gloom continued for online retailers with just four categories registering positive sales figures and total sales down by 3pc.

There was cause for some optimism, however, as brighter weather at the end of the month led to a much-needed pick-up in summer fashion sales, as well as gardening and DIY products.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “With consumer confidence still recovering from record depths, and continued tightening of household incomes, we are unlikely to see substantial sales growth in the coming months.”

© Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Total UK retail sales increased by 3.9pc last month – Philip Toscano/PA Wire

07:23 AM

Primark owner buys dairy data business

Primark owner Associated British Foods has revealed it will buy a diary data company which helps farmers get maximum milk production from their cows.

AB Foods will pay 215p a share in cash for National Milk Records (NMR), representing an 87pc premium on the company’s closing price on Monday.

The £48m deal, which will take effect during the third quarter of this year, will support its AB Agri business, which supplies a wide range of animal feed, supplements and specialist ingredients in more than 80 countries, employing over 3,000 people internationally. 

José Nobre, chief executive of AB Agri, said:

NMR is a high-quality business which is extremely complementary and additive to our dairy strategy and offering to the dairy industry.  

We have supported dairy farmers for more than 30 years with nutrition and specialty feed products, and more recently with data and technology platforms which deliver insights that create continuous improvement in agricultural supply chains. 

Acquiring NMR is an extension of this strategy and will enable us to service the industry better, offering products that deliver increased value, efficiency and ultimately profitability for dairy farmers.

© Peter Cade/Getty Images Contributor
Dairy cows – Peter Cade/Getty Images Contributor

07:06 AM

US regulator takes aim at £92bn of crypto

The list of digital tokens deemed as unregistered securities by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) now spans over $115bn (£92.4bn) of crypto after the US agency’s lawsuit against Binance.

The regulator in the complaint on Monday cited a dozen coins as assets that fall under its purview. 

Such a designation comes with strict investor protection rules and could make the tokens harder to trade if exchanges shy away from listing them for fear of falling foul of the SEC.

Binance’s BNB — which has a market value of $44bn — stablecoin BUSD, Cardano’s ADA, Solana’s SOL, Polygon’s MATIC, Filecoin’s FIL and Algorand’s ALGO were among those mentioned in the lawsuit. 

When added to other tokens like XRP separately targeted by the SEC, the agency has now categorised over $115 billion of coins specifically as unregistered securities.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has long said most tokens are subject to the agency’s investor-protection laws and that trading platforms should register with the regulator. 

However, labelling specific tokens represents a tougher approach. US officials have cracked down on digital assets this year following a rout in 2022 and a series of collapses, including the bankruptcy of the FTX exchange.

07:00 AM

Good morning

Bitcoin plunged 3pc to below £21,000 as US regulators filed a lawsuit against the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange and its founder.

The SEC accused Binance and Changpeng Zhao of misusing investor funds, operating as an unregistered exchange and violating a slew of US securities laws.

SEC chairman Gary Gensler in a written statement that Zhao and Binance “engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law”.

5 things to start your day 

1) Russian hackers raid British Airways and BBC in cyber attack | Personal details of staff stolen following payroll provider hack

2) Tim Cook unveils $3,500 Vision Pro headset in Apple’s most significant launch since iPhone | Apple said the Vision Pro, which will cost $3,499 (£2,814), will be “the most advanced personal electronics device ever” when it is released next year 

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4) House selling times soar to pandemic levels as mortgage rates climb | Four-bedroom homes worst hit as buyers opt for smaller properties

5) BCC wins the ear of government in a blow to scandal-hit CBI | Lobbying group faces uncertain future as crucial vote looms

What happened overnight 

Asian stock markets rose after Wall Street fell on concern the US economy may be weakening following a report that showed growth in service industries slowing.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2pc to 3,237.89 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.1pc to 19,310.53.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.4pc to 32,350.58 after government data showed Japanese wages rose 1pc over a year earlier in April but growth decelerated from the previous month’s 1.3pc.

The S&P ASX 200 in Sydney shed 0.5pc to 7,181.90. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

Wall Street stocks dipped Monday after the Institute for Supply Management’s closely-watched overall gauge of services unexpectedly fell to the lowest level of the year, conflicting with optimistic readings of the US economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.6pc to 33,562.86. The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2pc to 4,273.79, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.1pc to 13,229.43.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined two basis points to 3.67pc amid speculation the Federal Reserve plans to keep interest rates steady in June with the possibility of increasing in later months.

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