Bitcoin promoter indicted for money laundering
NEW YORK — Prominent bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has been indicted by a federal grand jury in New York on charges of funneling cash to the illicit online marketplace Silk Road.
Shrem, known as one of the digital currency's most visible promoters, is accused of conspiring with a Florida man, Robert Faiella, to sell more than $1 million in bitcoins to the users of Silk Road despite knowing that it would be spent on illegal uses like drug trafficking.
Both Shrem and Faiella face charges of money laundering, conspiracy and failing to file suspicious activity reports with government banking authorities, according to the indictment filed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Federal authorities shut down Silk Road last year, and prosecutors from Bharara's office have charged Ross William Ulbricht with operating the site under the name "Dread Pirate Roberts."
Shrem, 24, was arrested in January and stepped down as vice president of the Bitcoin Foundation, a well-known trade group, soon after. He was previously CEO of BitInstant, a bitcoin exchange company that enjoyed financial backing from the twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss but closed last year.
Retail sales brighten growth outlook
WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales recorded their largest gain in 1-1/2 years in March in a decisive sign the economy is bouncing back from its weather-induced slumber.
Monday's upbeat report was the latest to indicate growth was set to accelerate in the second quarter after an unusually cold and snowy winter hobbled activity early in the year.
"It shows there is an underlying current of strength in the economy despite the drag from the severe winter weather," said Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica in Dallas.The Commerce Department said retail sales increased 1.1 percent last month, the biggest gain since September 2012, with receipts rising in nearly all categories.
February's increase was raised to 0.7 percent from a previously reported 0.3 percent. Economists had expected retail sales to advance only 0.8 percent last month.