Bitcoin boss flees Cyprus ‘after threat’

Written by admin on 30/07/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿论坛

The boss of a bitcoin company in Cyprus has fled abroad days after it suddenly stopped operations, in a blow to the virtual currency’s once vaunted prospects on the island.

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Privately owned television channel Sigma TV says it has repeatedly tried to contact Neo & Bee CEO Danny Brewster, but to no avail.

The firm launched a huge advertising campaign earlier this year but halted operations in late March before its software to carry out transactions had even gone live.

Brewster himself told specialist bitcoin news website newsBTC on Tuesday that he had gone abroad after receiving threats against his family, but insisted the move was temporary.

“I left Cyprus on a short-term temporary basis… I haven’t shipped anything from Cyprus and I certainly haven’t run away with company or people’s money or bitcoins,” Brewster told the website.

“I received direct threats targeted directly at my daughter. They have been reported to the relevant authorities,” he said.

“Once those threats were made I took the advice to remain outside of Cyprus and remove contact with anyone that could be responsible for the threats. This included not speaking with members of staff that could be responsible.”

Sigma TV’s website said the company had been in operation for five months with 11 staff in its management team and another 15 people recently recruited to operate its branches and call centre.

It said Neo suppliers and staff had not yet been paid for March and that some employees claimed they had invested in bitcoin with the personal guarantee of Brewster.

But Brewster insisted on newsBTC: “Every single bitcoin raised and spent is accounted for, any claims of embezzlement are nothing but empty claims with no foundation”.

Cyprus had seemed fertile ground for the online crypto-currency.

In November, the island’s largest private university said it had become the first in the world to accept bitcoin for the payment of tuition and other fees.

The University of Nicosia at the time said it was also launching the first Master of Science Degree in Digital Currency in 2014, and was drawing up a plan to turn the island into a “hub for bitcoin trading, processing and banking”.

But last month, both the central bank and the finance ministry issued warnings to consumers after Neo’s advertising blitz, saying bitcoin was an unregulated virtual currency and therefore inherently unsafe.

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China’s Feng leads at Kraft Nabisco as Wie starts well

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Teenage amateur Angel Yin and South Korean Amy Yang are two strokes behind after a day of low scoring in ideal conditions at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

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Feng played her opening round with three-time Kraft Nabisco Championship winner Amy Alcott and was not afraid to ask the 58-year-old for advice on how to navigate the course.

“After my first drive, I was asking her the secrets about winning here,” said the 24-year-old from Guangzhou.

“Before this year, I never did well here, so she was telling me the secrets (but) don’t ask me what the secrets are, because they are secrets.

“I will tell you maybe after we finish Sunday but I did learn a lot from her. I was really focusing on my game but at the same time watching how she deals with the tough shots.”

Feng has three LPGA Tour victories, including a major title — the 2012 LPGA Championship.

Wie picked up five strokes in four holes around the turn, including an eagle at the par-five 11th. Her only blemish was a bogey at the penultimate hole, where she missed a short putt.

The 24-year-old from Hawaii is making her 12th appearance in the event, which she nearly won in 2006 when she finished a stroke behind winner Karrie Webb.

Wie has not yet lived up to the hype she generated as a teenager who played in several men’s events, but the two-time LPGA winner is starting to adapt to full-time golf after graduating from university two years ago.

“I definitely struggled a bit between the transition period between school and playing full time, but I’m getting into the groove of it,” she said.

Yin, a 15-year-old Californian playing on an invitation after making the cut last year, said good putting had been the key to her low score.

“I was staying calm and making my stroke. I really like the greens here, so my putting is better than any other course I play,” she said.

Yin, however, joked that she would not be so calm if she had a chance to meet Wie.

“If she said ‘hi’ to me, I’d probably run.”

Defending champion Park Inbee of South Korea mixed three bogeys with birdie for a two-over 74.

(Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Alice Walker among stellar Sydney line-up

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Internationally celebrated novelist Alice Walker headlines this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival, joining a line-up that includes Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.

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Gilligan’s talk on May 1 promises to give listeners a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the most acclaimed TV shows in recent history, hailed as “the best of the 21st century” by Stephen King.

Scottish author Irvine Welsh of Trainspotting fame and Andrew Solomon, whose latest book Far From the Tree tells the stories of hundreds of families affected by disability, will also present at the festival, which runs from May 19 to 25 and showcases more than 40 international writers and over 300 Australians.

Walker, author of The Color Purple and the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, will appear at the Opera House, where she will be joined for an evening on stage by musician Archie Roach.

Other guests include Russian immigrant turned US literary celebrity Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure, Amy Tan, who tells a tale of love and family in The Valley of Amazement, and British comedian Sandi Toksvig who writes about modern manners in Peas & Queues.

Several of the world’s major award winners will also discuss their writing at the festival, including A.M. Homes, who won the International Women’s Prize for May We Be Forgiven, Eleanor Catton, and Lucy Hughes-Hallett, whose biography The Pike, who took out the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson, whose The Orphan Masters Son is a fictional imagining of the North Korea, will be in conversation with Jang Jin-sung, a North Korean poet who defected to the south.

Iranian-American writer and scholar of religions, Reza Aslan, whose new book Zealot questions assumptions about Jesus, will speak about Iran and Israel with Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land.

From France, the festival will welcome poet and novelist Jacques Roubaud, who will discuss the Oulipo, his intriguing literary group whose past members include luminaries Georges Perec and Italo Calvino.

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Buckman closing in on Games berth

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Having raised the bar by qualifying fastest for the 1500m final at last year’s world athletics championships, Zoe Buckman is happy to admit she’s targeting a podium finish at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

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Coach Nic Bideau believes she has all the tools.

Determination? Check.

Speed, resilience, discipline? Check, check, check.

But Bideau also notes that such is the depth of women’s middle-distance running at Commonwealth level that the 25-year-old could feasibly run better than she did at the 2013 world titles and still come away from Glasgow empty-handed.

“Finishing seventh at the worlds means you’re within range of the medals,” said Bideau.

“That’s what she’s thinking.

“She’s not going to just go out there and make up the numbers. She wants to go for the maximum possible result.

“It’s a tough competition in this event at the Commonwealth Games – there are the Canadians, there’s English runners, Kenyans, Scottish and maybe South Africans who can run well in the 1500.

“Whereas last year I reckon Zoe was pretty pleased to get into the final and had some hopes of getting a medal, she would be more disappointed if she came seventh this time.”

The first task for Buckman will be guaranteeing her place in the Australian team on Saturday at the Games trials in Melbourne.

She confirmed her favouritism by qualifying fastest in Friday’s heats in four minutes 20.47 seconds.

But the other three Australians to have run under the B qualifying standard this year – Kaila McKnight, Melissa Duncan and Bridey Delaney – also advanced to the final and only a maximum of three of them can contest the event in Glasgow.

“I’m hoping that everyone is tough on Saturday because I enjoy a challenge,” said Buckman, who won the national 1500m title in 2011 and 2013.

“It just makes it more of an interesting race if everyone has a go and they’re all competing for the No.1 position.”

Buckman set her PB of 4:04.82 in the semi-finals at the Moscow world titles and is confident of bringing that mark down further this year.

Her stand-out showing at the world championships has her in demand for Diamond League meet organisers, with the prestigious Prefontaine Classic in Oregon in June already inked into Buckman’s racing schedule.

“I went to uni there and I’d really love to win that race,” she said.

“And I’d really like to medal in the 1500 in Glasgow.

“I just want to have a really strong lead-up, get lots of training in, stay healthy and build my race experience.”

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Phoenix coach angered by de Jong criticism

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Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick is angered by comments criticising his players from New Zealand Football (NZF) high performance boss Fred de Jong.

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Merrick accused de Jong of a conflict of interest in his role as a television commentator, believing he shouldn’t be publicly assessing the players given his NZF position.

“It’s not the place of a high performance manager of the national setup,” Merrick said.

“He’s very much got a conflict of interest making comments on how our players perform.”

Merrick was particularly upset by a critique of striker Jeremy Brockie before last Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to Newcastle.

During Sky TV’s coverage, former All Whites striker De Jong questioned the experienced Brockie’s selection ahead of young forwards Tyler Boyd and Roy Krishna.

Negative comments about the Phoenix defenders, including captain Andrew Durante, also irritated Merrick.

“Despite the criticism of him from Fred, Andrew Durante is truly one of the best players and one of the best captains I’ve ever worked with,” he said.

Merrick says he hasn’t taken his concerns to NZF.

However, he says it is rich to have to defend his team from NZF criticism considering his club provides more All Whites internationals than any other club.

“I do think they’re a good organisation, they’re on the right track and there’s a new CEO and there’s changes there,” he said.

“I’ll do everything I can to support NZ Football but Fred de Jong has never called me officially with anything to do with football.

“The All Whites he’s criticised have been stalwart players for both the Phoenix and New Zealand.”

The eighth-placed Phoenix play their penultimate game of the season away to Sydney FC on Sunday.

Merrick hopes to select the same starting 11 with the exception of the suspended Manny Muscat, who will probably be replaced by Carlos Hernandez, prompting a midfield shuffle.

Injuries to centre back Ben Sigmund (thigh) and midfielder Vince Lia (groin) have improved and both are expected to play.

The Phoenix are on a winless five-game run and need to win their two remaining matches to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. Their final game next week is home to the Melbourne Victory.

Sydney FC have won eight of the nine games the teams have played in Sydney.

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Santa molestation evidence tainted: court

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Evidence given against an elderly man accused of molesting children while working as Santa Claus was tainted because he was prejudged as a pedophile, an Adelaide jury has been told.

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“I am saying you have honestly mistaken witnesses infected with prejudgment on the basis of what they heard,” Heath Barklay said in the defence closing address.

William John Graham Webster, 77, has pleaded not guilty in South Australia’s District Court to five counts of aggravated indecent assault of girls aged between five and 12 in December 2012.

He is accused of touching their genital areas or bottoms or both, over their clothes, when he worked as Santa in an Adelaide shopping centre and at a community event.

Mr Barklay said the allegations were reported in the media after one mother went to police, which led to others coming forward after forming the view that the man was a pedophile.

“Some of the witnesses heard a news report or were told it and concluded it was true,” he said.

Prosecutor Melissa Wilkinson said Webster “took gross advantage of his socially sanctioned and very unique interactions with children”.

She alleged that despite families being present and photos taken, Webster took the brazen risk that they would not want to spoil the magic of Santa for their children by making a complaint in front of them.

He preyed on the mother’s natural reluctance to suspect that someone playing Santa would do such a thing, Ms Wilkinson added.

But Mr Barklay said: “Do you really think you can bank on a parent not doing anything while you fiddle with their child … right in front of them?

“No beard, no red suit is going to prevent a parent from interfering in those circumstances.”

The jury will retire after Judge Wayne Chivell completes his summing up, which he began on Friday.

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Australian house prices: Taking a fresh look at negative gearing

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The federal government could take a fresh look at negative gearing rules in the May budget to help balance the books and make housing more affordable and accessible.

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Negative gearing allows investors to fully deduct costs associated with a rental property against their income, reducing their tax liability.

Government sources say one of the changes being considered by Treasury is the grandfathering of arrangements for existing investors, but limiting future access to negative gearing so only new properties will be eligible.

It is understood Treasury and the Parliamentary Budget Office have done work in this policy area in recent months.

Treasurer Joe Hockey won’t comment on individual measures or what is being considered in the budget preparations, a spokeswoman said.

But there is strong support for such a move, particularly within the community sector.

The Equality Rights Alliance (ERA), which represents more than 60 community organisations, says the government needs to revisit recommendations from the Ken Henry tax review in relation to capital gains tax and negative gearing.

Capital gains tax exemptions encourage negatively geared property investment, favouring investment in existing high-rent housing rather than increasing supply of new affordable housing, the ERA argues.

The average benefit from CGT exemptions for the top 20 per cent of incomes is almost seven times greater than for the bottom 20 per cent.

The capital gain tax main-residence exemption and discount component cost the government $30 billion in forgone revenue last year.

“At the very least, options to structure the capital gains tax exemption as an incentive for affordable housing should be thoroughly investigated,” the ERA argues.

Negative gearing is made more attractive by the capital gains tax exemption.

The scheme was originally put in place to boost Australia’s housing stock, but it has had the effect of driving up property prices and rent.

In 1985, when the Hawke government made changes to the scheme, the then-treasurer Paul Keating described negative gearing as a way for high-income earners to “swap flats on Bondi Beach which were built 40 years ago”.

And it remains true. In 2013, only about eight per cent of the money funding the scheme went towards new dwellings, with the remainder for established homes and apartments.

Limiting negative gearing to new homes and apartments would refocus the policy to add to Australia’s housing stock rather than drive up the price of existing housing.

As the ERA says: “Failing to address the current tax arrangements for housing will continue a pattern of poorly targeted and increasingly expensive indirect assistance to households who need it least.”

The Grattan Institute estimates that through policies such as exemptions for the family home from land and capital gains taxes and the eligibility test for the aged pension, governments provide benefits to homeowners worth $36 billion a year.

Another option being floated is the “quarantining” of losses on investments, as a replacement for the negative gearing system.

“Quarantining is where the loss on an investment can’t be used in the year it is made, but can be used in future years against profits from the same investment from which the loss arose,” explains University of NSW tax expert Dale Boccabella.

The system is currently used to determine whether someone is liable to pay the Medicare levy surcharge and assessment of income under the Family Tax Benefit scheme.

But such a massive switch in policy is likely to face greater political hurdles than tweaking the negative gearing system.

In any case, the housing industry would put up a fight to any changes.

The Housing Industry Association says any reduction in negative gearing benefits would have a “marked negative impact on the demand for housing”.

It would also worsen rental affordability through a reduced supply of investment housing.

However, give the severe constraints on the federal budget and the prospects of a policy change boosting Australia’s stock of new housing, it may be a battle the government considers worth having.

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Stosur crashes out in Charleston

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Samantha Stosur won’t be adding a second Family Circle Cup title to her collection after falling to Czech nemesis Lucie Safarova in the third round.

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Stosur won the title in 2010 before making the French Open final two months later, but once again came unstuck against Safarova on Thursday.

The Australian’s 3-6 6-4 6-4 defeat was her ninth in 11 career meetings with the left-handed Safarova.

Canadian starlet Eugenie Bouchard admitted it was “a bit ugly” as she held off former world No.1 Venus Williams 7-6 (8-6) 2-6 6-4 to also reach quarter-finals.

Bouchard, an Australian Open semi-finalist who is seeded sixth in the green claycourt WTA premier level event, saved two set points in the first-set tiebreaker, and rallied from a break down in the third to advance to a meeting with second-seeded Serbian Jelena Jankovic.

Williams followed her younger sister, world No.1 and top seed Serena, out of the tournament.

“In the second set, she really started going for her shots,” Bouchard said.

“I just tried to keep fighting. It was a little bit ugly at times, but I just kept trying to fight through it.”

Jankovic defeated big-hitting Croatian Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5 6-1 to set up a meeting with Bouchard.

Tomljanovic, who had saved a match point in her first two matches this week, pushed Jankovic with a powerful baseline game in the opening set.

Trailing 5-3, the Croatian saved three set points before surrendering the opening set. From there, however, Jankovic cruised.

“My opponent was very aggressive today. That’s the way she plays,” Jankovic said. “I had to stay low and try to get my stride as well. I’m glad I was able to stay strong in that first set.”

Third-seeded Sara Errani of Italy advanced with a narrow 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) victory over China’s Peng Shuai.

Peng had a set point in each set but couldn’t convert.

Errani will face Swiss qualifier Belinda Bencic, a 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-1 winner over Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in a battle of teenagers.

Fourth-seeded Sabine Lisicki was another third-round casualty, falling to fellow German Andrea Petkovic 6-1 6-0.

Petkovic next faces ninth-seeded Safarova.

Jana Cepelova followed up her big win over Serena Williams with a 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 victory over 13th-seeded Russian Elena Vesnina.

Cepelova will face fellow Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in the quarter-finals. Hantuchova breezed past Teliana Pereira of Brazil 6-2 6-3

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Claims 457 workers at Roy Hill exploited

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A whistleblower at Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region claims workers on 457 visas are working excessive hours and being grossly underpaid.

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The CFMEU says it has asked Employment Minister Eric Abetz to start an urgent investigation.

The whistleblower says up to 200 white-collar 457 visa workers, about half of whom are Korean nationals aged under 30, are clocking up more than 84 hours a week. Many are female.

They are employed by the contractor Samsung C&T and being paid about $16 an hour, the union says.

Many are not working in the occupations approved for their visas – a breach of the sponsoring employer’s obligations, the CFMEU claims.

CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor said the alleged exploitation was a very serious concern.

“The allegations come as Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald revealed that 457 visa workers were no longer required on the project because plenty of Australian workers were now available due to the downturn in construction,” Mr O’Connor said.

“In the Australian Mining publication last month, Mr Fitzgerald said `more than 5500 people had applied to work at Roy Hill since December, with some positions attracting more than 600 applicants’.”

The company, which was the first to sign an enterprise migration agreement with the federal government in May 2012, was being sought for comment.

A Roy Hill spokesman said Samsung C&T was “an outstanding company with great integrity”.

“Its world-class reputation contributed to Roy Hill’s ability to secure finance from global markets, thereby allowing extensive economic benefits to now flow to this state,” he said.

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Firies cut pole from NSW party teen’s head

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A witness has described how firefighters used an angle grinder to cut a metal pole from a teenager’s head after a house party turned violent on Sydney’s north shore.

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Liam Knight suffered permanent brain damage after gatecrashers allegedly threw building material from the roof of a garden shed at the party in Forestville just before midnight on January 11 last year.

Mr Knight, who was 17 at the time, fell into a coma after a long metal reinforcing bar speared his skull.

Jimmy Angelo Tupou, 19, and another person known only as DS have been charged over the alleged attack and are standing trial at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.

Hamish Morgan Bradshaw was one of three people informally employed as security guards at the party.

He told the trial that he found Mr Knight lying unconscious in the backyard at the party with the metal pole sticking out of his temple, following a brief commotion.

“I saw the boy on the ground; there were two other youths next to him and there was a metal rod in his temple,” Mr Bradshaw told the trial on Friday.

“After that there was a bit of panic and I said `he’s still alive and we shouldn’t move him because he was having spasms through his arms’.”

Mr Bradshaw said emergency services arrived a short time later, including firefighters.

“They worked to cut off the rod about 20, maybe 30 millimetres off his head with an angle grinder,” he added.

Mr Bradshaw was asked to act as a security guard by Phillip Staples – who threw the party for his son Harry’s 18th birthday.

Mr Bradshaw said he only discovered Mr Knight, a friend of Harry Staples, after hearing a commotion and seeing a group of people jumping over the back fence at the party.

DS has pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He has also pleaded guilty to five other charges including reckless wounding causing actual bodily harm, two counts of assault, unlawful violence and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Tupou has pleaded not guilty to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm in company, reckless wounding causing actual bodily harm and using unlawful violence.

It’s alleged the pair gatecrashed the party before hurling building materials.

The trial continues.

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