‘Premier’ crypto cop CFTC reveals record-setting digital asset enforcement in 2023

The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has unveiled its enforcement outcomes for fiscal year (FY) 2023. It highlights a historic surge in digital asset cases, actions to enforce regulatory obligations for registrants, manipulation and spoofing cases and groundbreaking court decisions in intricate legal disputes.

The statement released by the CFTC shows that about 50% of the cases brought to its attention in 2023 involved crypto. During FY 2023, the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement (DOE) initiated 96 enforcement proceedings alleging fraud, manipulation and other substantial infringements across various markets, encompassing digital assets and swaps markets. These actions led to penalties, restitution and disgorgement of over $4.3 billion.

The CFTC initiated 47 actions in the digital asset commodities sector, comprising over 49% of all cases filed during that timeframe. The actions related to digital assets include filing complaints targeting fraudulent activities by exchanges and individual Ponzi schemes, achieving a legal victory against a decentralized autonomous organization and a digital asset futures platform and initiating inventive litigation related to cross-market manipulation in blockchain technology.

Chairman Rostin Behnam emphasized the CFTC’s unwavering commitment to preventing fraud and manipulation in the U.S., highlighting the DOE’s remarkable efforts in the digital asset domain, which led to a record number of cases. He also acknowledged the staff’s dedication to ensuring accountability among registrants and market participants within CFTC-regulated markets.

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The actions of the CFTC related to digital assets include suing Sam Bankman-Fried, Gary Wang, Caroline Ellison and Nishad Singh in two separate actions for a suspected fraudulent scheme with digital asset commodities, leading to over $8 billion in FTX customer asset losses. 

In July, the CFTC charged Celsius and ex-CEO Alex Mashinsky with fraud related to a digital asset commodity pool scheme. It also charged a digital asset lending platform for unregistered commodity pool operations.

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