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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFTC settles AML violations with cryptocurrency derivatives platform

Securities CFTC FinCEN Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement Commodity Exchange Act

Securities

On August 10, the CFTC announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a consent order against several companies (defendants) charged with operating an unregistered cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in October 2020, the CFTC announced that it filed a complaint against five entities and three individuals for allegedly owning and operating an unregistered cryptocurrency derivatives platform and failing to implement required anti-money laundering procedures. The complaint alleged that the platform “illegally offer[ed] leveraged retail commodity transactions, futures, options, and swaps” on cryptocurrencies without implementing key safeguards required by the Commodity Exchange Act and several CFTC regulation compliance measures, such as know-your-customer procedures or actions designed to detect and prevent illicit activities. The CFTC also claimed that the exchange operated as an unregistered futures commission merchant and did not have CFTC approval to operate as a designated contract market or swap execution facility. In addition, the defendants are permanently “restrained, enjoined, and prohibited from directly or indirectly offering to enter into retail commodity transactions,” among other things. The order notes that the defendants engaged in remedial measures, such as developing an AML and user verification program. The companies were ordered to pay a $100 million civil monetary penalty, but up to $50 million of the penalty may be offset by payments made by, or amounts credited to, the defendants pursuant to the Assessment of Civil Money Penalty entered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

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