Bittrex Hit With SEC Lawsuit After Deciding to Leave US

The SEC also alleged that six tokens available on Bittrex are securities

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Sharaf Maksumov/Shuttertock modified by Blockworks

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Weeks after announcing plans to permanently exit the US, Bittrex was hit with several charges from the SEC Monday. 

The SEC alleged that six tokens available on Bittrex are securities, including Algorand’s native ALGO and Dash token, the complaint noted. 

The SEC also claimed that the exchange operated as an “unregistered exchange, broker and clearing agency,” according to a statement from the agency. Bittrex’s former CEO William Shihara and international affiliate Bittrex Global GmbH are also facing charges. 

Bittrex, which revealed it would be winding down US operations earlier this month, had been tipped off in March that the SEC would proceed with a lawsuit, according to reports

In a statement earlier this month, Bittrex said it was closing down its US business because “it’s just not viable for us to continue to operate in the current U.S. regulatory and economic environment.”

SEC head Gary Gensler countered that there has been enough regulatory clarity around the crypto and exchange space for businesses to operate within the law. 

“Today’s action, yet again, makes plain that the crypto markets suffer from a lack of regulatory compliance, not a lack of regulatory clarity,” Gensler said in the statement. “Bittrex, as alleged, failed to register and comply with U.S. securities laws as an exchange, broker-dealer, and clearing agency. Cosmetic alterations did nothing to change the underlying economic realities of the offerings and Bittrex’s conduct.” 

US Bittrex customers have until April 24 to facilitate fiat withdrawals via wire transfer and until April 27 to withdraw via ACH. Trading closed on the platform last week on April 14. 

If users miss the above deadlines to pull funds off the platform, remaining assets “may be unavailable for an extended period,” Bittrex said.


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