The New York State Deartment of Financial Services Authority (NYDFS) rejected the Bittrex Bitcoin Exchange (Seattle, USA) application for a license to conduct virtual currency activities (BitLicense). The department considers the company's policy of legal compliance to be inadequate or completely non-existent, and the competence of the authorized top manager is questioned.
As part of the cooperation, NYDFS sent several letters to Bittrex, which stated the shortcomings, in particular - in AML-procedures, however, according to the regulator, the exchange left some remarks without attention.
Thus, the agency provided the trading floor with 14 days to terminate all operations in the territory of the State of New York, as well as develop a plan to suspend work with its residents.
Also, the exchange has only 60 days to transfer funds to residents of New York, which are in the custodial vault.
In a separate letter to the CEO of Bittrex, Bill Shihara, department, among other things, drew attention to the insufficient, in its opinion, due diligence measures for clients, as well as to the fact that a large number of transactions lacked the necessary tax information or customer names.
The Office also questioned the effectiveness of the measures that the exchange took to prevent access to the platform by users on the sanction lists, pointing out several cases of questionable transactions. Additionally, it was noted that a number of Bittrex clients used “frankly unreliable names”, for example, “Elvis Presley”, “Donald Duck” and “Give me my money”.
In Bittrex, negligence claims against the regulator’s claims were refuted and stated that this behavior of NYDFS does not protect users from New York, but only harms them.
The exchange insists that the examples cited by the Office refer to 2017, but since then a more reliable user identification system has been implemented. As part of this process, Bittrex has restricted access to accounts that do not meet “enhanced verification standards.” In addition, in January 2018, the Office for Control of Foreign Assets received information on users from Iran.
Commenting on the listing of tokens, Bittrex stated that the Office had proposed an agreement under which it could provide residents of New York with access to only 10 assets. However, considering what more than 200 cryptocurrencies and tokens are trading on the exchange, it rejected such a condition.