On October 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) announced related enforcement settlements with Bittrex, Inc., a U.S.-based digital asset exchange and hosted wallet services company (the “Company”), to settle violations of U.S. sanctions and the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and related regulations, respectively.[1]  The OFAC Settlement, the largest of OFAC’s digital asset-related enforcement actions to date, and the FinCEN Consent Order collectively result in the Company paying a civil penalty of approximately $30 million.  Following OFAC’s release of its “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry” (which we wrote about here)[2] and recent revelations regarding prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice of digital asset-related U.S. sanctions violations (which we wrote about here),[3] this joint OFAC-FinCEN enforcement action illustrates the U.S. government’s continued focus on the digital asset industry’s compliance with U.S. sanctions and the potentially significant penalties parties can face for U.S. sanctions and BSA violations.
Continue Reading OFAC and FinCEN Announce Joint Enforcement Action Against U.S.-Based Digital Asset Exchange

On July 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged Ishan Wahi, a former employee of the digital asset trading platform Coinbase (the “Company”), as well as his brother and friend, with engaging in insider trading ahead of certain of the Company’s digital asset listing announcements (i.e., announcements in which the Company publicly discloses the specific digital assets that it plans to make available for trading on its platform), which allegedly generally increase the value of the relevant digital assets.
Continue Reading SEC and DOJ Charge Employee of Digital Asset Trading Platform and His Associates With Alleged Insider Trading in Digital Assets

The last few weeks have seen a significant ramp-up of federal bank regulators’ focus on cryptocurrency companies and their disclosures regarding FDIC deposit insurance, signaling a potential spike in enforcement actions targeted at the crypto sector.
Continue Reading FDIC Issues Cease and Desist Letters to Companies for Crypto-Related Representations About Deposit Insurance

On August 10, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) jointly adopted proposed amendments to Form PF that would significantly expand reporting by private equity advisers and hedge fund advisers of both their investments and structures (the “Proposal,” available here).  The Proposal is part of an ongoing effort to bolster the SEC’s regulatory oversight of private fund advisers and investor protection efforts, while also purportedly enhancing the Financial Stability Oversight Counsel’s (“FSOC”) ability to monitor systematic risk.
Continue Reading Form PF, Take Two: The SEC and CFTC Propose Further Amendments To Reporting Obligations For Private Equity and Hedge Funds

On August 1, 2022, Robinhood Crypto LLC (“RHC”) entered into a Consent Order with the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) based on “serious deficiencies” related to anti-money laundering (“AML”), cybersecurity, and virtual currency that were identified in DFS’s examination of RHC covering the period from January to September 2019.
Continue Reading DFS Enters Consent Order with Robinhood Crypto for Deficiencies in AML, Cybersecurity, and Virtual Currency Compliance

The SEC and a consortium of 32 states recently announced a $100 million settlement with BlockFi Lending LLC over its crypto lending product, BlockFi Interest Accounts. The SEC alleged BlockFi had violated the securities laws by failing to register its interest-bearing crypto lending product as a security, failing to register itself as an investment company,

The path was paved in 2021 for unprecedented tax developments in the coming years for large businesses, especially for multinationals and investment businesses operating across borders.
Continue Reading Taxes: Stepping up Enforcement and Ending the Global “Race to the Bottom”

2021 was a year of transition for white-collar criminal and regulatory enforcement. As courthouses reopened and trials resumed, newly-installed heads of law enforcement authorities looked to reset priorities and ramp up enforcement in the first year of the Biden administration. 
Continue Reading Priorities, Trends and Developments in Enforcement and Compliance

On October 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry” (the “Guidance”).  The Guidance follows recent guidance and advisory letters directed to the virtual currency industry relating to the risk of facilitating ransomware payments[1] and is OFAC’s most comprehensive virtual currency-specific advisory to date.  In particular, the Guidance directly addresses some simpler interpretive questions, discusses sanctions compliance programs and “best practices,” and provides hints about OFAC’s enforcement priorities going forward.
Continue Reading OFAC Issues Sanctions Guidance to Virtual Currency Industry

On February 18, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $507,375 settlement with BitPay, Inc. (BitPay), a payment processor for merchants accepting digital currency as payment for goods and services, for 2,102 apparent violations of multiple sanctions programs between 2013 and 2018.[1] The settlement highlights that financial service providers facilitating digital currency transactions must not only establish sanctions compliance programs to screen their own customers but also must monitor third-party non-customer transaction information.
Continue Reading OFAC Settles with Digital Currency Payment Processor for Sanctions Violations