FINANCE

Bitcoin exchangers charged with money laundering

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – The Manhattan district attorney’s office has brought federal money laundering charges against two men involved in exchanging Bitcoin virtual currency. According to media reports, Bitcoin exchanger Robert M. Faiella, 52, and Charlie Shrem, 24, the CEO of the Bitcoin exchange company BitInstant, have been charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business.

The charges relate to an alleged scheme to sell more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins to narcotics traffickers on Silk Road, an underground website dedicated to the global online sale of narcotics and other illicit goods which the FBI shut down in October 2013. Silk Road used Bitcoins as currency. Since the Silk Road bust, the FBI has been investigating people involved in its operation as well as those who bought and sold goods on the site.

"The charges announced today depict law enforcement’s commitment to identifying those who promote the sale of illegal drugs throughout the world," said James J. Hunt of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in a news release. "Hiding behind their computers, both defendants are charged with knowingly contributing to and facilitating anonymous drug sales, earning substantial profits along the way."

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REAL ESTATE

Chico’s to enter Mexico in partnership with Liverpool

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Chico’s FAS will launch its namesake brand in Mexico, through an exclusive franchise with El Puerto de Liverpool, S.A.B. de C. V. ("Liverpool"), starting with a stand-alone boutique at Perisur Mall, Mexico City, in spring 2014.

Plans for the Chico’s expansion in Mexico include the opening of stand-alone stores as well as branded shop-in-shops in Liverpool department stores. The second stand-alone boutique will open in Villahermosa, Tabasco.

In addition, Liverpool plans to roll out six Liverpool department store shop-in-shops during the first half of this year.

"We believe Mexico is a great first foray into the international arena for the Chico’s brand. It represents an important part of the overall global expansion of Chico’s FAS, Inc.," says Bill Bine, Chico’s VP, international operations. "We are excited to announce our partnership with Liverpool. Their experience and understanding of the customer in the Mexican market, combined with the strength of the Chico’s brand creates a tremendous opportunity for international growth."

The store design of Chico’s stores in Mexico will be based on a new store prototype that will includes a mix of curated finishes and materials based in warm tones with subtle animal prints. Modern interpretations of Chico’s brand heritage are brought to life with iconic woven entry doors, luggage details on fixtures and layers of artifacts as props.

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REAL ESTATE

McAlister’s Deli partners with Buxton for growth, location optimization

BY Staff Writer

Fort Worth, Texas — McAlister’s Deli has partnered with Buxton to identify the best market opportunities for continued growth. Buxton’s restaurant expertise and Scout platform will allow McAlister’s to quantify growth potential and optimize locations of new and existing restaurants.

"As we continue to grow our network of restaurants, it’s critical that we do so strategically," said Jeff Sturgin, chief development officer, McAlister’s Deli, which has more than 320 restaurants in 24 states. "McAlister’s is a strong concept poised for tremendous growth. We look forward to working with Buxton to assist our growth as we expand the McAlister’s brand to more markets across the U.S."

As a Buxton client, McAlister’s will receive a customized predictive model delivered through Buxton’s web-based Scout platform. Utilizing Scout, McAlister’s will be able to analyze potential sites, run demographic reports, and create unlimited market expansion scenarios.

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