SEC warned of a possible lawsuit by cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex
The U.S. regulator (SEC) warned of a possible lawsuit by cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex
The platform discussed with the SEC the possibility of registering services, but ultimately decided to wind down U.S. business due to a lack of regulatory clarity
Cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex has received a "Wells notice" from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a warning that the regulator may be suing it over the platform's violations of securities laws, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Bittrex was founded in 2014 by software engineers who worked for Amazon and Microsoft. Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency (FinCEN) to improve compliance with anti-money laundering laws, the exchange temporarily stopped adding new customers in 2017. In 2017, it was the largest U.S. crypto exchange and the third largest in the world. But under an agreement with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency (FinCEN) to improve compliance with anti-money laundering laws, the exchange temporarily stopped adding new customers in 2017. It has since lost its lead to Coinbase, Kraken, Binance, and other exchanges.
In 2019, Bittrex split into two venues: international and U.S., significantly reducing sales on the latter.
Bittrex is ending its U.S. operations. According to the exchange, all operations will cease on April 30. Trading ended on April 14. As for the international platform, according to CoinGecko, trading volume on it was $7.3 billion in the last 24 hours, the site offers access to 436 cryptocurrencies and 816 trading pairs.
According to Bittrex General Counsel David Maria, the SEC has notified the exchange that it could sue for alleged violations of investor protection laws. The SEC notice alleges that Bittrex violated the laws by doing business without registering with the agency.
Maria said that Bittrex representatives discussed with the SEC late last year how the exchange's operations could be registered, but found that it was impossible without significantly reducing all revenue-generating activity in the United States.
"The lack of regulatory clarity here leads to significant costs and a lack of certainty about what can and cannot be offered," Maria said.
The SEC has been investigating Bittrex since 2017. The agency has issued several subpoenas to Bittrex over the years, mostly aimed at understanding how the exchange makes money and decides which assets to offer to customers.
According to the agency, the crypto-exchange facilitated more than $263 million in sanctioned transactions between 2014 and 2017.
In late March, the SEC also issued a Wells notice to cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, alleging that the site was engaging in unregistered securities trading. Coinbase said it would "welcome" the lawsuit to provide the regulatory clarity the exchange advocates and to demonstrate that "the SEC does not behave fairly or reasonably when it comes to digital assets."
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