Crypto exchange Bittrex has reached a settlement in response to charges from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its offering of unregistered securities to American investors. The agreement entails Bittrex paying a $24 million fine within two months after submitting a liquidation plan for the exchange.
Bittrex had been sued by the SEC earlier this year for allegedly operating as a securities exchange, broker, and clearinghouse without proper registration. Similar charges had been levied against other crypto exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance.US by the SEC. The regulatory body also claimed that Bittrex instructed crypto issuers to remove public statements that hinted their tokens might breach securities regulations.
As per the court filing on Thursday, Bittrex neither admits nor denies the allegations and is prohibited from making statements that could cast doubt on the factual basis of the SEC’s claims. The fine, totaling $24 million, includes $14.4 million in disgorgement, $4 million in prejudgment interest on that amount, and $5.6 million in civil money penalties.
Bittrex is obligated to pay the SEC within 90 days of its liquidation plan taking effect. If the exchange fails to meet this deadline, the SEC retains the option to pursue a court judgment by March 1 of the following year.
The settlement terms, applicable to Bittrex, are contingent upon approval from the Bankruptcy Court as an allowed, unsecured claim under any bankruptcy plan proposed by Bittrex.
SEC Enforcement Director Gurbir Grewal emphasized that this settlement underscores the principle that changing labels or descriptions does not absolve one from liability, as the core concern is the actual economic nature of the offerings. Grewal praised the SEC staff’s resolute pursuit of regulatory compliance within the crypto industry, expressing gratitude for resolving the issue and providing additional relief to affected investors.