BitMEX Calls DOJ Charges Old News

BitMEX Calls DOJ Charges Old News


By Jakub Lazurek

11 Jul 2024 (8 days ago)

3 min read


BitMEX responds to the DOJ's BSA violation charges, calling them old news and emphasizing significant compliance improvements since 2020.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that HDR Global Trading Limited, also known as the cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX, has pleaded guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). This news revealed on July 10, focuses on BitMEX's previous failures in anti-money laundering (AML) compliance.

BitMEX emphasized that this charge is not new, noting that its founders served their sentences in 2022. Since 2020, the company has made major improvements and adopted new standards. The DOJ's allegations centered on BitMEX’s lack of an adequate AML program, which allowed illegal activities to occur on the platform. Founders Arthur Hayes, Benjamin Delo, Samuel Reed, and employee Gregory Dwyer were implicated.

Despite operating in the U.S., BitMEX only required an email address for access, neglecting “know your customer” (KYC) rules. This oversight, according to the DOJ, enabled money laundering. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams highlighted the seriousness of these violations, saying BitMEX’s actions threatened the financial system's integrity.

“As BitMEX’s founders admitted in federal court, the company operated without a meaningful AML program,” Williams said. FBI Acting Assistant Director Christie M. Curtis noted that profit motives drove BitMEX’s non-compliance.

“Today’s plea shows the FBI’s dedication to enforcing U.S. financial laws and protecting the financial system,” Curtis stated.

In response, BitMEX reiterated that the BSA charge, originally brought in 2020 and resulting in 2022 sentences, is not new. The company stressed its efforts to fully fix its operations since then.

“Our users and partners know that our compliance standards have greatly improved since the BSA charge period,” BitMEX stated. The company assured that these charges would not affect its operations, reaffirming its commitment to high safety, trust, and financial stability standards. BitMEX argued against further fines, citing the large amounts already paid by its founders and settlements with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The BitMEX case highlights the increasing regulatory scrutiny in the crypto industry. Other major exchanges, like Binance, have faced similar penalties. Binance’s former CEO, Changpeng Zhao, was recently sentenced to four months in federal prison for inadequate AML protocols. U.S. courts are also preparing to sentence individuals connected to the defunct crypto exchange FTX.

The DOJ’s focus on AML compliance shows the rising regulatory pressure on the cryptocurrency sector. Exchanges are being held accountable for their compliance practices, and those found lacking face severe penalties.

BitMEX’s commitment to improving its compliance standards is a crucial step in regaining trust. The exchange has made significant efforts to enhance its procedures and follow all relevant financial laws.

Developments in the BitMEX case and similar actions against other exchanges signal a new era of regulatory oversight in the cryptocurrency industry. As authorities crack down on non-compliance, exchanges must prioritize robust AML and KYC protocols to avoid legal issues.

In conclusion, BitMEX’s response to the DOJ’s announcement highlights the exchange’s efforts to correct past errors and improve its compliance framework. While the charges against its founders are not new, the company’s focus on improvements and regulatory standards marks a shift towards greater accountability in the cryptocurrency sector. As the industry evolves, exchanges must continue to prioritize compliance to successfully navigate the regulatory landscape.

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