Two More Crypto Exchanges Shuttered by NY Attorney General

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In Brief
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James ordered another pair of cryptocurrency exchanges to immediately cease their operations in the state.

  • In addition to closing these exchanges, James directed another three platforms to immediately provide information about their activities and products.

  • James designates cryptocurrencies as securities under the Martin Act, deeming their unregistered trade illegal.

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New York Attorney General Letitia James ordered two cryptocurrency exchanges to immediately cease their operations in the state. In addition to closing these exchanges, James directed another three platforms to immediately provide information about their activities and products.

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“Cryptocurrency platforms must follow the law, just like everyone else, which is why we are now directing two crypto companies to shut down and forcing three more to answer questions immediately,” Attorney General James said. 

While James did not name the firms in her statement, Bloomberg reported that Nexo Financial LLC received a cease-and-desist letter, and Celsius Network LLC received a request for more information.

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New York’s Martin Act

James considers crypto exchanges that offer interest-bearing accounts with a rate of return on virtual currencies deposited in them to be lending platforms. Consequently, James asserts they must register with her office, or are otherwise facilitating illegal trading in violation of the Martin Act. The Martin Act is reputedly one of the most severe ‘blue sky’ laws, state laws that protect investors by requiring registration of all securities offerings and sales.

Passed a century ago, New York’s Martin Act established a broad-ranging scope for investments to be considered as securities. According to the 1921 law, “any stocks, bonds, notes, evidence of interest or indebtedness or other securities…or negotiable documents of title, or foreign currency orders, calls or options therefore hereinafter called security or securities.” 

According to James, these defined categories of instruments are not exhaustive, meaning they can continually be applied to new investments. She believes that the “nature and function of the most common virtual currency lending products or services demonstrate that they fall squarely within any of several categories of a security under the Martin Act.” 

Crypto closures in NY

These exchange closures are the latest crypto firms accosted by James, following her shuttering of exchange Coinseed over the summer. Earlier in the year, crypto exchange Bitfinex reached a settlement with James, agreeing to pay $18.5 million, in addition to ceasing operations in New York.

However, the exchange neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing in regard to James’ accusation of hiding the loss of commingled client and corporate funds, while also lying about reserves.

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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