The big news of today is that Charlie Shrem, the CEO of BitInstant was arrested at JFK airport and charged with money laundering.
At least one person calls Shrem, 24, “the face of Bitcoin.” He was one of the subjects featured in a Businesweek piece on Bitcoin millionaires, and served as a vice chairman at the Bitcoin foundation.
But BitInstant was a curious business. It allowed users to mysteriously purchase Bitcoins at mega retailers like Walmart and Duane Reade, though it was never really made clear how this was done. Still, it was apparently possible to do this at a total of 700,000 stores, and BitInstant was regularly listed as a cornerstone of Bitcoin e-commerce.
That was good enough for the Winklevoss twins, who led a $US1.5 million round of seed funding in BitInstant this past spring.
This is why tomorrow could be rather awkward for the pair, who are scheduled to headline two-days worth of hearings the New York State Department of Financial Services is holding on digital currencies.
The hearings are more of a fact-finding mission to figure out whether Bitcoin is prone to criminal cases exactly like this one.
The brothers have not responded to requests for comment.