By Luc Cohen and Jody Godoy
NEWYORK -The founders of cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX pleaded guilty to violating the bank secrecy act by failing to establish an anti-money laundering program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said on Thursday.
Arthur Hayes and Benjamin Delo, who founded BitMEX in 2014, each agreed to pay a $10 million fine under the terms of their plea agreement, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“They allowed BitMEX to operate as a platform in the shadows of the financial markets,” Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, adding that his office was committed to continuing “the investigation and prosecution of money laundering in the cryptocurrency sector.”
A spokesperson for Delo said on Thursday that he regrets the platform’s lack of an adequate customer identification program.
“This firmly draws a line under the matter. Ben looks forward to focusing his time and energy on his philanthropy,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Hayes said that he “accepts responsibility for his actions and looks forward to the time when he can put this matter behind him.”
The pair were charged alongside co-founder Samuel Reed and employee Gregory Dwyer in October of 2020 with failing to implement a “know your customer” requirement required by federal law. Prosecutors said at the time that BitMEX made itself a “vehicle” for money laundering and sanctions violations.
Reed and Dwyer have pleaded not guilty.
Attorneys for Reed did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Thursday. An attorney for Dwyer declined to comment.
In August of 2021, BitMEX agreed to pay up to $100 million to settle separate charges for unlawfully accepting customer funds to trade cryptocurrency when it was not registered to do so, as well as failure to conduct customer due diligence.