Bittrex Global, a major player in the crypto space, finds itself charting new waters following a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). With regulatory pressures intensifying in the United States, the crypto industry has been rife with discussions surrounding the future of exchanges.
Now equipped with resolving a major regulatory hurdle, the company has articulated a strategic shift to cater to international market participants.
Earlier in April, the SEC initiated enforcement action against Bittrex Global and its US arm, accusing them of functioning as unregistered exchanges. However, in a recent development, the two parties reached a deal.
According to Andrew Michaelson, representing the company’s legal front, the financial dimension sets this settlement apart: the exchange isn’t obligated to remit monetary compensation. Michaelson expressed satisfaction over the outcome, highlighting its peculiarity in not necessitating any settlement payment.
What makes this result so unusual and gratifying is that our client, Bittrex Global, will put this matter behind it without paying a penny in settlement. We are thrilled with this result on behalf of our client.
Oliver Linch, the CEO of Bittrex Global, articulated the company’s reinvigorated stance following this episode. Linch extended an olive branch to those hesitant about affiliating with U.S.-related entities due to the prevailing regulatory climate.
[For those] who are increasingly wary of having any connection to the United States given its regulatory uncertainty, should know that if they want to do business with a non-US regulated digital assets exchange, Bittrex Global is here for you.
SEC Settlement: Charges And Aftermath
The broader context of this settlement necessitates a dive into the specifics of the SEC’s grievances. Months ago, the US SEC initiated charges primarily against the exchange’s U.S. arm and co-founder, William Shihara.
The U.S. regulatory body alleged that the exchange, in addition to Shihara, conducted its operations as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency. Bittrex Global was also accused of defaulting on its obligation to enlist as “a national securities exchange.”
The SEC’s contention was rooted in the perceived transgressions of Bittrex and Shihara in their dealings with token listing applicants. According to the commission, both entities actively collaborated with these applicants to expunge online discussions about price prognostications, anticipated profits, and other investment-centric content.
In a statement, Gurbir S. Grewal, at the helm of the SEC’s enforcement division, commented on Bittrex’s attempts to navigate federal securities regulations, which he deemed unsuccessful.
The Director noted:
For years, Bittrex worked with token issuers to ‘scrub’ their online statements of any indication they were investment contracts — all in an effort to evade the federal securities laws. They failed.
Furthermore, the consequences of Bittrex’s U.S. arm were more tangible. The entity agreed to a $24 million settlement. Adding to its woes, the Seattle-based entity sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, with disclosed assets and liabilities oscillating between $500 million to $1 billion.
Featured image from Unsplash, Chart from TradingView