US woman accused of wiring laundered Bitcoin to ISIS
Bitcoin’s been everywhere recently, with the cryptocurrency’s value surging to $18,000 (£13,500) at one point. It hasn’t been without its fair share of controversy, with worries about the virtual currency’s volatility abounding. Concerns took a more sinister turn this week, as a New York woman has been accused of laundering Bitcoin, along with other cryptocurrencies, in a bid to fund ISIS.
Zoobia Shahnaz, 27, is accused of wiring money to ISIS after having laundered Bitcoin. Shahnaz was apprehended at John F Kennedy airport in New York with $9,500 (£7,100) in cash, whereupon she was arrested for bank fraud and money laundering, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. She is currently being held without bail in the US.
Meanwhile, analyses of Ms Shahnaz’s electronic devices show that she had conducted internet searches for IS-related material. The Pakistani-born woman is now facing the prospect of up to 20 years in prison for each money laundering charge, as well as up to 30 years if found guilty of bank fraud.
Meanwhile, in Japan, one company has unveiled plans to start paying a portion of its employees’ salaries in Bitcoin, in a bid to get a firmer grasp of the cryptocurrency.
Starting February 2018, GMO Internet has pledged to pay up to 100,000 yen (£660) per month to its employees located in Japan. The pledge will be open, though not compulsory, to nearly 4,000 employees, explained company spokeswoman Harumi Ishii.
“Employees can receive salaries by Bitcoin if they want to,” she divulged. “We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it.” In January, the company hopes to extend its commercial feelers to “Bitcoin mining”, whereby entities receive new Bitcoins in return for aiding the security of the network by approving transactions.
The osmosis of Bitcoin into mainstream salaried work as well as peripheral extremist groups attests to the virtual currency’s ubiquity, with market experts dubbing its current stature a bubble waiting to be burst. Watch this space.
Header image: fdecomite, used under Creative Commons