Officials representing the United States government have reportedly urged Japan’s licensed cryptocurrency exchanges to stop doing business with Russia, seemingly as part of the country’s economic sanctions.
According to a Thursday report from the Financial Times, U.S. diplomats requested several of the 31 crypto exchanges licensed to do business in Japan and certain miners to halt operations in Russia. Japan’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency, or FSA reportedly issued demands to the respective exchanges to sever any remaining ties with Russia.
Cryptocurrencies have become a point of contention among many lawmakers and regulators in jurisdictions imposing sanctions on Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The FSA and Japan’s Finance Ministry announced in March that crypto firms processing transactions involving sanctioned individuals or entities in Russia and Belarus would be subject to major fines or imprisonment.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, Japan has imposed its own sanctions on Russia since February, including a ban on imports of the country’s gold, providing certain accounting services and freezing Russian assets. The Financial Times report suggested that though many Japanese crypto mining firms and exchanges may not operate directly in Russia, they could have subsidiaries working with local companies, allegedly in violation of sanctions.
Under FSA guidelines, all exchanges must be registered to offer crypto-related services in Japan. As of June 17, there were 31 registered and licensed exchanges in the country, including DeCurret, bitFlyer, Coincheck and OKCoin.
On Friday, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed while speaking at a campaign rally in Nara. Abe was well known for proposed economic reforms that came to be known as "Abenomics."
Crypto lending platform Celsius has reportedly hired lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis LLP to advise on its restructuring options — the same firm that assisted Voyager Digital with its bankruptcy filing last week.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal on July 10, the company has hired lawyers to advise on options, including a bankruptcy filing in place of the previously hired law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
Kirkland & Ellis LLP describes itself as an international law firm that serves clients in private equity, M&A, and other corporate transactions, having been founded in 1909.
The law firm has also been tapped as general bankruptcy counsel for Voyager Digital in its bankruptcy proceedings, which it filed in the Southern District Court of New York on July 5, days after pausing trading, withdrawals, and deposits on liquidity issues.
Despite ongoing concerns that the crypto lender may follow a similar path, Celsius has continued to wind down its debts to decentralized finance (DeFi) lending protocols, having just paid off 20 million in USD Coin (USDC) to Aave.
The latest loan repayment was picked up by blockchain analytics firm Peckshield on Sunday, July 10, sharing a screenshot of the 20 million USDC transfer from a Celsius wallet to Aave Protocol V2.
Defi tracking platform Zapper shows that Celsius still owes approximately $130 million in USDC and $82,500 in Ren (REN) to Aave, along with $85.2 million in Dai (DAI) to the Compound protocol, with a total debt of $215 million.
Last week, the lending platform paid off its remaining $41.2 million debt to Maker protocol on July 7, freeing up more than $500 million in Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) collateral.
Paying down debt has been seen as a positive for Celsius’ depositors, who have not been able to access their crypto funds since withdrawals halted on June 13 and fear a loss of their funds if the company were to go bankrupt.
Last week, crypto lawyer Joni Pirovich told Cointelegraph that Celsius’ repayment of its loan position would ultimately assist its customers, as it would free up capital which could be used to meet customer withdrawal requests.
Pirovich added that even if Celsius files for bankruptcy, repaying its loan position and withdrawing collateral could improve the situation of its customers.
Crypto exchange OKX has announced that it has made a deal with English Premier League (EPL) champions Manchester City to become the team’s training kit sponsor for the 2022-23 season.
Despite the current bear market, it appears that crypto and sports partnerships have been going strong, with fellow EPL team Everton also recently signing a match kit sponsorship with crypto gambling firm Stake. At the same time, PSG has also launched preseason NFT tickets.
The OKX deal will put a fair amount of eyeballs on company branding, given that Manchester City won the EPL last season and is looking primed to make another tilt at the league this upcoming season after signing the Norwegian star striker Erling Haaland.
As part of the deal, OKX’s logo will feature on both the men’s and the women’s training gear until mid-2023, with current previews showing OKX’s name on the front of training shirts in the lower chest area.
Additionally, OKX stated that it had commissioned popular street artist “Akse P19” and the Global Street Art Agency to create four artworks across Manchester that include QR codes. These can be scanned by fans for a chance to win season tickets in the OKX Hospitality Box. The street art pieces depict players such as Haaland, Jack Grealish, João Cancelo, and John Stones.
The duo has held a partnership since March after OKX was signed on to become Manchester City’s Official Cryptocurrency Exchange Partner. They have also touted that more Web3-focused fan engagement experiences will be rolled out.
OKX was founded in 2017 and is based in the Republic of Seychelles. The firm claims to have more than 20 million customers across the globe from around 180 international markets. It supports trading on top assets such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Polkadot (DOT), and Cardano (ADA).
The most recent crypto deal that precedes Manchester City’s is Everton’s deal with Stake, which was announced on June 9. The multi-year agreement is said to be worth roughly $12 million a season, marking the club’s “highest front-of-shirt deal in the club’s 144-year history,” according to a statement from Everton. Stake also held a sponsorship deal with Watford F.C. last season, who will be plying their trade in the second tier of pro-English football after being relegated.
PSG jumps on NFTs
This week, French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG) also announced a crypto-related move, with the team rolling out NFT tickets for its pre-season tour of Japan later this month.
To commemorate PSG’s first trip to Japan since 1995, the team is offering three premier NFT tickets that offer buyers VIP access to games, meet and greets, player autographs, and private parties with a select group of players who were not specified.
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