Bittrex Pays $24M for Violating Sanctions
New York City: U.S. officials levied a punishment of $24 million on the cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex for assisting customers in circumventing United States sanctions in countries such as Syria, Iran, and Crimea.
According to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, this is the biggest fine that has ever been imposed on a cryptocurrency exchange for a violation of their regulations.
Between 2014 and 2017, the Treasury Department said that Bittrex enabled users in Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and the disputed territory of Crimea to trade about 263.5 million dollars’ worth of digital currencies. Due to the fact that these clients had sanctioned regions of the globe associated with their IP addresses as well as their physical locations, the United States said in its statement that Bittrex ought to have been aware of this fact.
In one instance, an Iranian client provided a real location in Iran as well as an image of an Iranian passport in order to authenticate their identity.
“When virtual currency firms fail to implement effective sanctions compliance controls, including screening customers located in sanctioned jurisdictions, they can become a vehicle for illicit actors that threaten the national security of the United States,” said Andrea Gacki, the director of OFAC, in a statement.
OFAC discovered 116,421 alleged breaches of United States sanctions programs during the course of three years, indicating that the violations of sanctions were fairly widespread. It does not seem that the corporation had any internal procedures in place to deal with penalties prior to the month of October 2017.
Bittrex, which has its headquarters in the state of Washington, stated that it was “pleased” to settle these charges with U.S. authorities. The company also mentioned that regulators were not asking Bittrex to make any additional changes to its money laundering systems, as these systems had been updated after 2018.