U.S. Treasury fines crypto exchange Bittrex $29 million over years-long sanctions violations

Quick Take

  • Bittrex is facing record fines from the U.S. Treasury Department over the exchange’s lack of sanctions controls between 2014 and 2017. 
  • The Treasury has been increasingly vocal about crypto exchanges’ need to comply with sanctions since the summer of ransomware attacks last year.

The U.S. Treasury Department has fined crypto exchange Bittrex for sanctions violations.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced settlements totaling $29 million with Bittrex on Tuesday morning.

"Bittrex has agreed to remit $29,280,829.20 for its willful violations of the BSA’s AML program and SAR requirements. FinCEN will credit the payment of $24,280,829.20 as part of Bittrex’s agreement to settle its potential liability with OFAC," the department said in a statement.

OFAC director Andrea Gacki said alongside the announcement: “Virtual currency exchanges operating worldwide should understand both who — and where — their customers are."

Bittrex allegedly facilitated $263,451,600.13 in sanctioned transactions between 2014 and 2017, according to the releases. Despite implementing blocks on sanctioned individuals, the firm allegedly did not have a program to screen sanctioned jurisdictions like Syria or Crimea up until the end of 2017 and did not file any suspicious activity reports to FinCEN prior to May of the same year. 

Treasury has previously fined crypto payments platforms BitGo and BitPay for facilitating payments in sanctioned jurisdictions, but those fines were just over $98,000 and $500,000, respectively. Today's actions are the largest of their kind involving a crypto company.

Bittrex has, however, fallen from the rankings of high-volume exchanges, seeing a recent daily volume of roughly $15.7 million, according to CoinGecko.


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