Japan punishes Coincheck after $530 million cryptocurrency theft

UNTV News   •   January 29, 2018   •   3692

Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck’s signboard is pictured in front of a building where their office is located, in Tokyo, Japan January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s financial regulator on Monday ordered Coincheck to get its act together after hackers stole $530 million worth of digital money from its exchange, jolting the nation’s cryptocurrency market in one of the biggest cyber heists.

The theft highlights the vulnerabilities in trading an asset that global policymakers are struggling to regulate and the broader risks for Japan as it aims to leverage the fintech industry to stimulate economic growth.

The Financial Services Agency (FSA) said on Monday it has ordered improvements to operations at Tokyo-based Coincheck, which on Friday suspended trading in all cryptocurrencies except bitcoin after hackers stole 58 billion yen ($534 million) of NEM coins, among the most popular digital currencies in the world.

Coincheck said on Sunday it would return about 90 percent with internal funds, though it has yet to figure out how or when.

The FSA is due to brief media on the matter at 2 p.m.

Japan started to require cryptocurrency exchange operators to register with the government only in April 2017, allowing pre-existing operators such as Coincheck to continue offering services ahead of formal registration.

The FSA has registered 16 cryptocurrency exchanges so far, and another 16 or so are still awaiting approval while continuing to operate.

Coincheck has said its NEM coins were stored in a “hot wallet” instead of the more secure “cold wallet”, outside the internet.

NEM fell to $0.78 from $1.01 on Friday, before recovering to around $0.97 on Monday, according to CoinMarketCap.

Singapore-based NEM Foundation said it had a tracing system on the NEM blockchain and that it had “a full account” of all of Coincheck’s lost NEM coins.

It added that the hacker had not moved any of the funds to any exchange or personal accounts but that it had no way to independently return the stolen funds to its owners.

In 2014, Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, which once handled 80 percent of the world’s bitcoin trades, filed for bankruptcy after losing around half a billion dollars worth of bitcoins. More recently, South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit last month shut down and filed for bankruptcy after being hacked twice last year.

World leaders meeting in Davos last week issued fresh warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrencies, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin relating Washington’s concern about the money being used for illicit activity.

Many countries have clamped down on exchanges.

South Korea will ban crytocurrency traders from using anonymous bank accounts to crack down on the criminal use of virtual coins. China has ordered some exchanges to close, with the aim of containing financial risks.

But Japan has taken a different tack, becoming last year the first country to introduce national-level regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges.

The move, intended to protect consumers and stymie money laundering, was praised by many traders and operators as progressive.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki, Takahiko Wada, Thomas Wilson, Chang-Ran Kim in TOKYO, Vidya Ranganathan in SINGAPORE; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim

Fukushima residents after Typhoon Hagibis: ‘We’ve never seen damage like this’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019

Rescue works are underway in flooded areas in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture, Japan, 13 October 2019. According to latest media reports, at least 26 people have died and more than 20 are missing after powerful typhoon Hagibis hit Japan provoking landslides and rivers overflowing across the country. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS

Fukushima residents on Tuesday (October 15) took stock of the damage left in the wake of Hagibis as the death toll of the worst typhoon to hit Japan for decades climbed to 66.

The highest death toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the largely agricultural prefecture.

At least 25 people died in Fukushima, including a mother and child who were caught in floodwaters, NHK said. Another child of the woman remains missing.

Part of Masaharu Ishizawa’s family’s back garden had been washed away, breaking water pipes and electricity lines.

The family was using water carried from a local community center to clean up.

Two doors down, an old house had collapsed after the flood washed its foundations away.

About 133,000 households were without water while 22,000 lacked electricity, well down on the hundreds of thousands initially left without power but a cause for concern in northern areas where temperatures are falling.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliament committee on Tuesday (October 15) that the government is planning to classify the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis as a “catastrophic disaster.” (Reuters)

(Production: Kwiyeon Ha, Hideto Sakai, Akiko Okamoto)

PH offers humanitarian aid as Japan recovers from Typhoon Hagibis

Marje Pelayo   •   October 14, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the government of Japan following the massive destruction brought about by the ‘violent’ Typhoon Hagibis that struck the east Asian country over the weekend.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo cited President Rodrigo Duterte’s expression of sympathy to the Japanese people for the victims of the disaster.

“The Philippine embassy in Tokyo is closely monitoring the situation and is now in coordination with the members of the Filipino community in typhoon-affected areas in Japan,” Panelo said.

“As we offer our prayers, the Office of the President has likewise asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to get in touch with its Japanese counterpart for possible humanitarian assistance we can provide,” he added.

Public broadcaster NHK reported more than 30 people were killed, almost 20 people went missing and over 160 people were injured after ‘Hagibis’ brought record-breaking volume of rainfall and flooded huge swaths of residential districts on Saturday (October 12) and Sunday (October 13) in Tokyo and other areas in central, eastern and northeastern region,

‘Hagibis,’ which means ‘speed’ in Filipino language, inundated cities and towns across Japan including those in Nagano, Niigata, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.

Rescue efforts were ramped up for survivors as many trapped in their homes after major rivers overflowed their banks on the onset of what Japan considered as the ‘heaviest’ typhoon to hit the country in decades.

Many people were forced to abandon submerged homes.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a ministerial meeting on the typhoon held on Sunday (October 13) extended his condolences for all those who lost their lives and offered sympathy to all those impacted by Typhoon Hagibis.

Japan’s capital braces for what could be heaviest rain in 60 years

Robie de Guzman   •   October 11, 2019

A handout photo made available by NASA shows a visible image acquired from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Terra Satellite of Typhoon Hagibis approaching the southeast coast of Japan, 09 October 2019 (issued 10 October 2019).  EPA-EFE/NASA GODDARD MODIS RAPID RESPONSE

A powerful storm approached Japan on Friday (October 11), threatening to batter its capital with the heaviest rain in 60 years, disrupting a Formula One Grand Prix and rugby’s World Cup and raising fears of transport chaos.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, is due to make landfall on the main island of Honshu on Saturday (October 12), a month after one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in recent years destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses and caused extensive power cuts.

The storm could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958 and people should also prepare for high waves and storm surges, Yasushi Kajihara, forecast division director at the Japan Meteorological Agency, told media during a Friday briefing.

Rugby World Cup organisers on Thursday (October 10) cancelled Saturday’s game between England and France as well as New Zealand’s match against Italy due to the risk from the typhoon. Japanese Formula One Grand Prix organisers also cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday.

Typhoon Hagibis is expected to pass over or get close to Tokyo and neighbouring areas including Chiba prefecture, which is still recovering from a devastating typhoon Faxai that struck a month ago. (Reuters)

(Production: Yasuteru Ueda, Kwiyeon Ha)

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