Bittrex Global targets those 'wary of US regulatory uncertainty' after SEC settlement

Quick Take

  • Bittrex Global aims to attract market participants wary of U.S. regulatory uncertainty after SEC settlement.
  • Bittrex’s U.S. arm agreed to pay $24 million to settle an SEC enforcement action for allegedly operating as an unregistered exchange.

Bittrex Global aims to attract market participants wary of U.S. regulatory uncertainty after settling with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

In April, the regulator took enforcement action against the company and its U.S. arm for allegedly operating as unregistered exchanges. Bittrex agreed on a settlement with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission last Thursday.

On Wednesday, Bittrex Global CEO Oliver Linch assured those "who are increasingly wary of having any connection to the United States, given its regulatory uncertainty, that if they want to do business with a non-U.S. regulated digital assets exchange, Bittrex Global is here for you." 

According to Bittrex Global's press release, the company will not have to pay to settle the enforcement action. "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," Bittrex Global's legal counsel Andrew Michaelson said.

“While this is good news for Bittrex Global, now is not the time for a victory lap. Instead, with this matter behind us, we can concentrate on building our vision for the future of crypto, as a regulated, mature, and sophisticated part of the wider financial ecosystem," Linch added.

The U.S. arm of the crypto exchange agreed to settle with the regulator for $24 million. The Seattle-based exchange filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. Court filings showed that Bittrex has more than 100,000 creditors and assets and liabilities estimated to be worth between $500 million and $1 billion.

SEC action against Bittrex

In April, the SEC brought charges against the U.S.-arm of the exchange and its co-founder William Shihara. The SEC said it operated as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency in the U.S. At that time, the U.S. regulator also charged Bittrex Global for failing to register as "a national securities exchange."

The SEC claimed Bittrex and Shihara directed token listing applicants to remove social media posts discussing price predictions, profit expectations, and other investment-related topics. “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,” Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement.

Bittrex was once one of the largest exchanges in the U.S., with a market share of USD support of nearly 23% at the start of 2018, data from The Block show. It collapsed to below 1% in 2021 and hasn't recovered since.

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