Cointelegraph By Martin Young
The money laundering trial for the former executives of U.S. cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX has been scheduled for March 28, 2022.
On May 11, New York District Judge John Koeltl set the trial date for former BitMEX executives CEO Arthur Hayes, co-founder Benjamin Delo, and chief technology officer Samuel Reed.
The trio are accused of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering laws. Additionally, BitMEX’s head of business development, Gregory Dwyer, is also facing charges but has yet to appear in the case.
The U.S. Department of Justice originally filed the criminal charges against the four executives on October 1, 2020, for illegally operating a derivatives exchange. Hayes, Delo, and Reed founded BitMEX in 2014 but failed to register with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission which has also filed a civil enforcement action against the company.
DoJ prosecutors have accused BitMEX executives of failing to implement AML procedures while doing business with U.S.-based traders, despite the company being based in the Seychelles.
According to the indictment, Hayes allegedly said in July 2019 that the Seychelles was a friendlier jurisdiction since it cost less to bribe authorities there than it would in the U.S. FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney claimed to the press that Hayes bragged about bribing regulators in that jurisdiction costing just “a coconut.”
According to John Jefferies, chief financial analyst at blockchain intelligence firm CipherTrace, BitMEX had been under CFTC investigation since early 2019 for allowing Americans to trade on the platform. Speaking to Cointelegraph, he added that they were given time to improve their Customer Identification Program to effectively exclude U.S. clients.
Any defense motions are due to be filed in June while other potential pretrial motions are scheduled to be lodged by September, a Law360 report noted. If convicted, the executives could face a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In mid-January, BitMEX announced that it was working with blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis with the aim of identifying, investigating, and preventing illicit transactions.
“Bitcoin maximalists? They can’t stop innovation,” says Mati Greenspan
Cointelegraph By Marco Castrovilli
In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph during Bitcoin 2021 in Miami, Greenspan criticized a segment of Bitcoin (BTC) maximalists for being “small-minded and insecure,” pointing out that they don’t have control over the main cryptocurrency.
“They cannot stop any kind of innovation from happening. So let them yap, it doesn’t bother me,” said Mati Greenspan, founder and CEO of Quantum Economics, about Bitcoin maximalists.
Greenspan‘s statements came a few days after a number of Bitcoin hardliners attacked him on Twitter for calling the Bitcoin conference in Miami “a crypto conference.”
Greenspan’s inclusive view on crypto is also reflected in his diversified investment portfolio. When asked about it, Greenspan pointed out that Dogecoin (DOGE) is his top holding on eToro. “Why not?” he said. “It’s funny!”
Check out the full interview on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Over 2 million adults in UK now hold crypto, FCA survey finds
Cointelegraph By Helen Partz
A new study by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority has indicated a significant increase in cryptocurrency ownership in the country.
On Thursday, the FCA published the results of a consumer survey which found that 2.3 million adults in the U.K. now hold crypto assets, up from 1.9 million last year. Alongside the increasing number of crypto investors, the study also identified a surge in ownership volumes, with median holdings rising to 300 British pounds ($420) from 260 pounds ($370) in 2020.
The rising popularity of holding cryptocurrency comes in line with an uptick in the awareness level as 78% of adults said they have heard of crypto, up from 73% last year.
Despite the rising awareness and ownership of crypto, the FCA study has flagged a notable decline in understanding of cryptocurrencies, suggesting that some people who have heard of crypto may not fully understand it.
According to the report, only 71% of respondents correctly identified the definition of cryptocurrency from a list of statements, down 4% from 2020. “This suggests there may be a risk of consumers engaging with cryptocurrency without a clear understanding of it,” the FCA noted.
Related: Crypto and ‘meme stocks’ shunned by 90% of UK financial advisers
Sheldon Mills, the FCA’s executive director of consumers and competition, said that some U.K. investors have benefitted from the bull market this year. “However it is important for customers to understand that because these products are largely unregulated that if something goes wrong they are unlikely to have access to the FSCS or the Financial Ombudsman Service,” he added.
The FCA study also said that U.K. consumers significantly favor Bitcoin (BTC) over other cryptocurrencies, with 82% of respondents recognizing BTC. Among those who recognized at least one cryptocurrency, 70% recognized only Bitcoin, up 15% from 2020, the study said. “It seems likely many adults who have now heard of cryptocurrency are only acquainted with Bitcoin,” the FCA stated.
SEC opens to comments on whether to approve VanEck Bitcoin ETF
Cointelegraph By Turner Wright
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an order allowing the public to comment on the proposed rule change surrounding the Bitcoin exchange-traded fund from asset manager VanEck.
According to a Wednesday filing from the SEC, the regulatory body has not yet reached a decision on whether to approve or disapprove of VanEck’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, or ETF, but “seeks and encourages interested persons to provide comments” on the proposal. Specifically, the commission is asking the public to consider whether they believe the Bitcoin ETF would be susceptible to manipulation and designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices.
The SEC also asked people to weigh in on “the suitability of Bitcoin as an underlying asset for an exchange-traded product,” and the liquidity and transparency of the Bitcoin (BTC) market. Existing rules require that national securities exchanges are aimed to “protect investors and the public interest.”
Anyone interested in commenting on the proposed Bitcoin ETF will have until 21 days after the order is published in the Federal Register, and 35 days after publication in the same register for rebuttals. Members of public can submit comments through the SEC website, via email, or snail mail.
Related: SEC pushes decision on VanEck Bitcoin ETF until June
VanEck submitted the paperwork to apply for a Bitcoin ETF with the SEC in March following the asset manager withdrawing a similar application it had filed in January in partnership with blockchain startup SolidX. The commission has already extended the deliberation window once, from May 3 to June 17.
The SEC has the ability to extend the deadline in 45-, 45-, 90- and 60-day increments — up to 240 days — before delivering a final decision. However, under Section 19(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the commission also has the right “to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved” prior to any deadline, as is the case in the request for public comment.
No Bitcoin ETF has been approved by regulators in the United States. Given the SEC’s continued delays in the case of VanEck’s, Valkyrie Digital Assets’ and Fidelity Investments’ proposed BTC exchange-traded funds, many do not expect an approval soon. However, Canadian officials have given the green light for many crypto ETFs this year, including offerings from investment fund manager 3iQ, Purpose Investments, Evolve Funds Group and CI Global Asset Management.
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