Thursday, March 6, 2014

FORBES: Arrested Bitcoin Mogul Charlie Shrem Defiant In First Public Appearance Since Criminal Charges

Forbes reports:
Before he was charged with money laundering in January, Charlie Shrem was a board member of the government-friendly Bitcoin Foundation and the public face of the New York Bitcoin startup community. Now, he sounds like a revolutionary.

In a speech to the Texas Bitcoin conference in Austin Wednesday, Shrem accused prosecutors of pursuing him for political purposes: a desire to control Bitcoin and fear of how it could shift economic power. He spoke via Skype from his parents’ home in Brooklyn, New York, where he’s being held under house arrest.

“We’ve seen high-profile politicians mobilizing in order to protect the financial and banking industry,” Shrem said. “The financial and banking industry wants to convince us that it’s only about illegal payments, that it’s about protecting the integrity of the status quo. It’s a pretext. We need to look at the big picture, Bitcoin is about something entirely different.”[...]

“Illegal payments are a real threat,” Shrem concede. “However, using it as an excuse to ban or to assert control is merely a distraction. There are those who are set on bringing down our culture.”
I hope Charlie has a well thought out strategy here but, from the outside, this looks pretty dangerous. I don't think I have ever heard anyone charged with almost any crime ever speak out like this.


WSJ is reporting that Shrem also said:
In answer to one question, he even offered a fairly detailed explanation about how money went through the Silk Road website and his own Bitinstant company. He emphasized the point that he was not knowingly handling any money used in those illegal transactions. “There were like six or seven steps in between me and that process, and I was only part of that process. None of the physical dollars were ever handled by Bitinstant, they were [moved] into money transmitter-based accounts, either Moneygram or Western Union. But none of those guys are in jail. I believe it’s because I’ve been such an outspoken evangelist for bitcoin.”

Again, it is understandable as to why Shrem wants to get his position out there but it is hard to see how this will help him during the trial. He is really locking his defense attorneys into one narrative.

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