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Bittrex Global Ceases Operations – SEC Accuses Crypto Exchange of Illegal Operations and $1.3 Billion Revenue

Last Updated November 21, 2023 12:06 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated November 21, 2023 12:06 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Bittrex Global is ceasing all operations worldwide.
  • Bittrex Global will only facilitate asset withdrawals in cryptocurrency or euros, not U.S. dollars.
  • The decision to cease operations globally is likely due to the withdrawal from the U.S. market, its largest market.
  • The regulatory scrutiny and ensuing legal actions against Bittrex U.S. appear to have affected both branches. 

Earlier this year, Bittrex US revealed its intention  to wind down operations, citing that it was “not economically viable” to continue operating in the current U.S. regulatory environment.

As one of the largest crypto exchanges in the U.S. in 2018, with a 23% market share in the country, it has now chosen to permanently close its doors.

Bittrex Global Shuts Doors, Latest Casualty of Crypto Winter

Bittrex Global has revealed  the cessation of its worldwide operations following the recent closure of its U.S. branch, which confronted legal issues with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Effective December 4, Bittrex Global will halt all trading operations, focusing exclusively on facilitating asset withdrawals for its users.

The exchange’s decision to exclusively support cryptocurrency or euro conversions rather than facilitating withdrawals in U.S. dollars is a significant aspect of its winding-down process.

This stipulation may raise concerns about the liquidity and accessibility of funds for users with holdings in various currencies.

In October of last year, Bittrex reached an agreement to pay a $29 million fine  to the U.S. Treasury Department for “apparent violations” of the law’s anti-money laundering provisions and sanctions against specific nations.

Afterwards, the SEC accused Bittrex and its former CEO, William Shihara , on April 17, 2023, of unlawfully operating the platform as a broker, exchange, and clearing agency without proper registration, generating at least $1.3 billion in investor commission revenue between 2017-2022.

The legal action highlighted the broader issue of regulatory non-compliance in the crypto markets, according to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.

In August, Bittrex consented to a $24 million fine within two months of submitting a liquidation plan for the exchange, settling allegations from the SEC regarding providing access to unregistered securities to American investors.

Bittrex Global then expressed satisfaction in promptly reaching a settlement agreement with the SEC after the submission of their motion to dismiss.

“The agreement has now been submitted to the court for approval, and we will be able to comment further once that process is complete,” Bittrex then told CCN.

Closures and Scrutiny Plague Company

While Bittrex Global did not specify the reasons for its closure, it is presumed that the withdrawal from the U.S. market, its largest market, played a significant role.

Despite encouraging comments in August by Bittrex Global’s CEO, Oliver Linch, inviting investors wary of U.S. connections to participate in the platform, the results did not meet expectations.

Bittrex now joins several cryptocurrency companies that have had to cease operations amid the ongoing crypto winter.

Linch has emphasized the separation between Bittrex U.S. and Bittrex Global as distinct entities. However, the regulatory scrutiny and ensuing legal actions appear to have affected both branches.

The recent emergence of Bittrex U.S. from bankruptcy and court approval to sell its American assets adds complexity to the company’s financial narrative.

In addition to regulatory challenges, the company seems to be facing financial difficulties. Bittrex downsized its staff  by about one-fifth in February, and it reported a modest trading volume of $14 million over the past 24 hours.

While Bittrex has a long history, having launched in 2014, its significance is more associated with its age than its current popularity.

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