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Crime at crypto “DeFi” sites hits $10.5 billion in 2021, research shows

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Crime at crypto
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Representations of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on a screen showing binary codes are seen through a magnifying glass in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo

By Tom Wilson

LONDON (Reuters) – Fraud and theft at decentralised finance platforms has totalled $10.5 billion so far this year, research showed on Thursday, laying bare the risks in the fast-growing but still mostly unregulated area of cryptocurrencies.

So-called DeFi platforms allow users to lend, borrow and save – usually in cryptocurrencies – while bypassing traditional gatekeepers of finance such as banks. Backers say the technology offers cheaper and more efficient access to financial services.

Cash has poured into DeFi sites this year, mirroring the explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies as a whole. Many investors, facing historically low or sub-zero interest rates, are drawn to DeFi by the promise of high returns on savings.

Yet crime is also booming in the mostly unregulated sector, according to London-based blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. Users have suffered over $12 billion in losses through crime at DeFi apps, lending platforms and exchanges since 2020, with the majority of losses coming in 2021 alone, it found.

Bugs in code and design flaws allow criminals to target DeFi sites, Elliptic found, with deep pools of liquidity also allowing criminals to launder proceeds of crime while leaving few traces. Scams are also common, it added.

“Decentralised apps are designed to be trustless in that they eliminate any third-party control of users’ funds,” said Elliptic’s Tom Robinson. “But you must still trust that the creators of the protocol have not made a coding or design mistake that could lead to a loss of funds.”

Major DeFi platforms say they take a variety measure to bolster security, from hiring external firms to audit code for vulnerabilities to maintaining keys and passwords needed to access user wallets in secure environments.

Cryptocurrency worth some $86 billion is currently stored on DeFi platforms, versus $12 billion a year ago, according to sector tracker DeFi Pulse.

Major investors have also bet heavily on the growth of the sector, with Canadian pension fund Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec last month taking part in a $400 million investment in major lending platform Celsius Network.

DeFi site Poly Network was in August rocked by a $610 million crypto theft, one of the biggest ever – though the hacker later returned nearly all the loot.

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Economy

Oil Prices Fall amid Protests in China

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Oil prices decline

Oil prices fell on Monday amid a general decline in investor appetite for risk amid information about the ongoing protests in China against vested restrictions.

The cost of January futures on Brent crude oil on London’s ICE Futures exchange was $81.31 per barrel on Monday, down $2.32 (2.77%) from the close of the previous session. At the close of trading on Friday, those contracts fell $1.71 per barrel to $83.63.

Oil prices decline – what’s going on in the market?

The price of WTI futures for January crude fell by $2.31 (3.03%) to $73.97 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). By closing of previous trades, the cost of these contracts decreased by $1.66 (2.1%) to $76.28 per barrel. Brent and WTI gained 4.6% and 4.8%, respectively, last week.

According to Bloomberg, protests were held in cities across the country, including the capital Beijing, as well as Shanghai, Xinjiang, and Wuhan, which was originally the epicenter of the COVID-19 spread.

That contributes to a stronger U.S. dollar, which reduces the attractiveness of investments in crude, and also raises the possibility of even more significant tightening of restrictions by Chinese authorities, the agency said.

“The outlook for the oil market remains unfavorable and the events of this weekend in China do not add to the positive,” notes Warren Patterson, who is in charge of commodities strategy at ING Groep NV in Singapore.

According to the forecast of analytical company Kpler, oil demand in China in the fourth quarter will decrease to 15.11 million barrels per day (bpd) compared to 15.82 million bpd a year earlier.

Earlier we reported that Russia will ban the sale of its oil to countries that have imposed a price ceiling.

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Economy

Oil Russia ban news: Russia will ban the sale of its oil to countries that have imposed a price ceiling

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oil Russia ban

Will Russia sell oil to Europe? The administration of President Vladimir Putin is preparing an order prohibiting Russian companies and any trader from buying Russian oil to sell raw materials to countries and companies that have imposed a price ceiling on Moscow. Bloomberg news agency wrote this, citing a report from sources.

“The Kremlin is preparing a presidential decree banning Russian companies and any traders buying national oil from selling it to anyone who participates in the price ceiling,” the publication wrote.

According to the newspaper’s interlocutors, this would prohibit any mention of the price ceiling in contracts for Russian crude, as well as transferring it to countries that have joined the price ceiling for the natural resource.

In the first half of September, the press service of the US Treasury Department said that the USA, together with its allies from G7 (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, France and Japan) and the European Union (EU) would impose a ban on marine transportation of Russian oil on December 5 and oil products – on February 5.

Earlier we reported that EU negotiations on limiting the prices of Russian oil reached a deadlock today.

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EU talks on restrictions on Russian crude oil prices today stalled

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russian crude oil price today

Negotiations between the European Union countries about the “ceiling” of Russian crude oil prices today reached an impasse; Bloomberg reported, according to its sources.

Representatives of the bloc cannot reach an agreement on the ceiling price of Russian oil. According to the agency, the proposed European Commission limit of $65-70 per barrel, Poland and the Baltic countries believe “too generous,” while Greece and Malta, which is actively engaged in transporting fuel, do not want the limit to fall below $ 70. Recall that the Russian response to the oil price cap was negative. The Russian government has officially said that it will only sell oil at market prices.

“We are looking for ways to make this solution work and we are trying to find a common ground to implement it in a perfectly pragmatic and efficient way, while avoiding that it may cause excessive inconvenience to the European Union,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Earlier, we reported that the SEC fined Goldman Sachs $4 million for non-compliance with ESG fund principles.

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