The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that crypto asset trading platform Bittrex Inc. and its co-founder and former CEO, William Shihara, agreed to settle charges that they operated an unregistered national securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency. Bittrex Inc.’s foreign affiliate, Bittrex Global GmbH, also agreed to settle charges that it failed to register as a national securities exchange.
As alleged in the SEC’s complaint filed on April 17, 2023 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Bittrex acted as an unregistered broker, exchange, and clearing agency by providing services to U.S. investors in connection with crypto assets that the SEC’s complaint alleges were offered and sold as securities. The complaint further alleges that Bittrex and Shihara, who was the company’s CEO from 2014 to 2019, directed issuers who sought to have their crypto assets made available for trading on Bittrex’s platform to first delete from public channels certain “problematic statements” that Shihara believed would lead a regulator, such as the SEC, to investigate whether the crypto asset was offered and sold as a security. As part of the settlement, the defendants neither admit nor deny the SEC’s allegations.
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