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Crypto exchange Bittrx agrees $24m SEC settlement

Crypto exchange Bittrx agrees $24m SEC settlement

Crypto outfit Bittrex has agreed to pay $24 million to settle SEC charges that it operated an unregistered national securities exchange, broker and clearing agency.

The firm's former CEO William Shihara and its foreign affiliate, Bittrex Global, have also agreed to settle charges.

The SEC charged Bittrex in April, saying the firm provided services to US investors in connection with crypto assets that were offered and sold as securities.

In addition, the regulator alleged that Bittrex and Shihara directed issuers who sought to have their crypto assets made available for trading on the platform to first delete from public channels certain “problematic statements” that Shihara believed would lead a regulator to investigate whether the crypto asset was offered and sold as a security.

“For years, Bittrex worked with token issuers to 'scrub' their online statements of any indicia that they were investment contracts—all in an effort to evade the federal securities laws. They failed,” says Gurbir Grewal, director, division of enforcement, SEC.

Before the SEC charges, Bittrex had already said that it would shut up shop in the US by the end of April, citing the "current US regulatory and economic environment".

In May, it filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Delaware, saying it believed it has more than 100,000 creditors, with estimated liabilities and assets both within the $500 million to $1 billion range.

The firm has neither admitted or denied the SEC’s allegations but agreed disgorgement of $14.4 million, prejudgment interest of $4 million, and a civil penalty of $5.6 million.

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