The judge in the Silk Road trial denied a motion from Ross Ulbricht’s defense for a new trial despite federal agents’ alleged corruption, billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson will organize a summit to discuss Bitcoin and the blockchain on his personal private island this May, and more top stories for April 28.

Silk Road Judge Denies Retrial Despite Agents’ Alleged Corruption

The judge in the Silk Road trial, Katherine Forrest, denied a motion from Ross Ulbricht’s defense for a new trial, shooting down several of the defense's arguments, including those regarding the new corruption charges against a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and Secret Service agent.

Forrest wrote:

“The evidence of Ulbricht’s guilt was, in all respects, overwhelming. It went unrebutted (…) This motion for a new trial (…) does not address how any additional evidence, investigation, or time would have raised even a remote (let alone reasonable) probability that the outcome of the trial would be any different.”

Richard Branson to Host Bitcoin Summit on Private Island

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson is set to bring "the greatest minds in cryptocurrency" together to discuss Bitcoin and the blockchain on his personal private island this May. Taking place on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands from 25 – 28, Branson's event will feature discussions moderated by Hernando De Soto, president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Wall Street Journal senior columnist Michael J Casey and Matthew Bishop, US business editor for The Economist.

The event's welcome message reads:

"Come visit with Sir Richard Branson on his private island for a set of intimate discussions highlighting critical issues and solutions and to lay out the framework for a world where the humankind is fully benefiting from the amazing technology behind the blockchain."

Overstock Files Prospectus to Issue US$500M in Stocks on Blockchain

Online retailer Overstock has filed for permission to issue US$500 million in stocks using distributed blockchain technology. Approaching the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States, Overstock filed a prospectus detailing the way in which the company plans to issue these crypto-based stocks:

“[These] shares would be uncertificated and represented exclusively as book-entries on a cryptographically-secured distributed ledger. Digital securities are designed to enable trades to settle immediately or nearly immediately, unlike traditional securities, such as shares of our common stock, trades of which settle on the third day following the day the money is exchanged.”

The SEC will now decide whether it finds this document “effective”, and suitable to be used as a sales document by the company in selling these securities to the value of US$500 million.

Overstock Files Prospectus to Issue US$500M in Stocks on Blockchain

Circle Aims to Raise an Additional US$40M

Circle Financial, the Bitcoin wallet startup led by Brightcove founder Jeremy Allaire, is said to be in the midst of raising an additional US$40 million of investments. Both venture capital and Wall Street firms are expected to participate. The Boston-based company previously raised US$26 million in VC funding.

California Bill Attempts to Ban Charitable Raffles Using Bitcoin

A bill introduced in the Senate of California on February 26 attempts to ban charitable raffles from using Bitcoin to sell their raffle tickets. It is as of yet unclear what the motivation behind this proposal is.

In Section 1, point 4F, the bill reads:

“A raffle ticket shall not be sold in exchange for Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.”

Coin Center Issues Flexible Template for Bitcoin Regulation

Bitcoin policy think tank Coin Center has published a framework for state digital currency regulation. The report, titled “State Digital Currency Principles and Framework” is meant to be a model for digital currency specific regulations and laws. The report provides a template with structure, definitions and language for the essential components of any digital currency law: who must be licensed, how start-ups are encouraged, how solvency is guaranteed and other necessary elements.

Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito said:

“The state that reaps the benefits of new technologies, new jobs and enhanced financial inclusion will be the state that first discovers a path worth following (…) We hope this report will help in that endeavor.”

Expert Close to Ukraine Central Bank Speaks of Removing Bitcoin Obstacles in 2015

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) held a meeting last week to discuss ways of improving the performance of international payment systems in Ukraine and easing up regulatory constraints for new market entrants.

Subseuqently, Alexander Karpov, the director of the Ukrainian Interbank Payment Systems Member Association EMA and an attendee to many internal meetings with the NBU, said that both PayPal and Bitcoin should soon appear on the Ukrainian market.

Expert Close to Ukraine Central Bank Speaks of Removing Bitcoin Obstacles in 2015

Nevada's Attorney General Charges Seals With Clubs Operator

Nevada's Attorney General has charged Bryan Micon, the operator of online poker website Seals With Clubs that accepted Bitcoin, for running the website without a license. The poker site was shut down last February. The felony count can lead to 10 years in prison and a US$50,000 fine.

Swarm Targets Blockchain Governance in Platform Pivot

Swarm is pivoting toward decentralized governance, a decision that finds the project shifting away from its original focus on distributed crowdfunding. The move follows the release of a research paper commissioned jointly with DATA's Constance Choi and Harvard Berkman Center research fellow Primavera de Fillippi. The paper suggested distributed collaborative organizations (DCOs), are among the “crypto 2.0 models” that are unlikely to attract negative attention from US regulators.

Swarm CEO Joel Dietz said:

"It will all be fully automated, you show up and you say here are the 100 people who I want to be a part of this organization, then they can claim their shares."

Cointelegraph Launches Bitcoin Relief Fund for Nepal Earthquake Victims

In response to the powerful earthquake, and resulting humanitarian crisis in Nepal, Cointelegraph is launching a relief operation for those affected by working in cooperation with the Bitcoin Alliance India.

Using an on-the-ground network of procurement and distribution based in India, donated funds will be used to purchase emergency supplies of food, shelter, and tools, and transport them in convoy to affected communities in Nepal.

Cointelegraph Launches Bitcoin Relief Fund for Nepal Earthquake Victims