After a lengthy legal battle with the US Department of Justice, the founders of cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX have pleaded guilty to breaching the Bank Secrecy Act (DOJ).
American Arthur Hayes and British Hong Konger Benjamin Delo admitted to “willfully omitting to design, execute, and administer an anti-money laundering (AML) programme” at their crypto derivatives and futures market, BitMEX. BitMEX is a Seychelles-based crypto trading platform that offers crypto futures, derivatives, and 100x margin trading. Americans used to be allowed to utilise the exchange’s services without having to go through any KYC or AML checks. BitMEX became a “money-laundering platform” as a result of its lack of regulatory compliance, according to the DOJ’s case notice dated February 24.
Before the March trial date, Hayes and Delo both filed guilty pleas, agreeing to pay a total of $10 million in criminal fines. The DOJ’s case was bolstered by allegations that Hayes bribed the Seychelles municipal government when BitMEX completed its relocation there in 2020. He allegedly boasted that bribing just cost him a coconut.
Despite BitMEX’s headquarters being in the United States from about 2015 to 2020, Hayes and Delo claimed that no Americans used the platform. The assertion was proven to be untrue by the Department of Justice. By January 2021, the exchange claimed to have gone through a KYC-AML process with all of its users.