[UPDATED] NY Attorney General Launches Inquiry Into Cryptocurrency Exchanges

On Tuesday the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to 13 cryptocurrency exchanges requesting information on “their operations, use of bots, conflicts of interest, outages, and other key issues.” The AG also launched the Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative.

  • UPDATED | April 17, 2018:

    “With cryptocurrency on the rise, consumers in New York and across the country have a right to transparency and accountability when they invest their money. Yet too often, consumers don’t have the basic facts they need to assess the fairness, integrity, and security of these trading platforms,” said Schneiderman. “Our Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative sets out to change that, promoting the accountability and transparency in the virtual currency marketplace that investors and consumers deserve.”

    As part of the AG’s inquiry, exchanges have been asked to submit answers to a questionnaire, providing information on six topic areas. These are 1) ownership and control, 2) basic operation and fees, 3) trading policies and procedures, 4) outages and other suspensions of trading, 5) internal controls, and 6) privacy and money laundering.

    The AG’s office explained that it also has requested that cryptocurrency exchanges describe their efforts toward “combating suspicious trading and market manipulation; their policies on the operation of bots; their limitations on the use of and access to non-public trading information; and the safeguards they have in place to protect customer funds from theft, fraud, and other risks.” After analyzing responses, the AG’s office plans to compare the information across platforms and present its findings to the public.

    As longtime readers know, New York pioneered the BitLicense, a business license for virtual currency activities. Companies in possession of a BitLicense include bitFlyer USA, Inc., XRP II, LLC (an affiliate of Ripple Labs), Coinbase, Inc., and Circle Internet Financial. It’s worth noting that another prominent cryptocurrency exchange, Gemini, is actually chartered as a limited purpose trust company.

    In February, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issued guidance to remind licensed virtual currency companies of their responsibilities.

    ORIGINAL | April 17, 2018:

    On April 17, 2018, Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General (AG) for New York, introduced the Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative, which is billed as “a fact-finding inquiry into the policies and practices of platforms used by consumers to trade virtual or ‘crypto’ currencies like bitcoin and ether.” Simultaneously, the AG’s office announced that it has sent letters to 13 cryptocurrency exchanges, asking the platforms to disclose information on their “operations, internal controls, and safeguards to protect customer assets.”

    The AG shared details of the letters on Twitter:

    Exchanges that have received letters include (1) Coinbase, Inc. (GDAX); (2) Gemini Trust Company; (3) bitFlyer USA, Inc.; (4) iFinex Inc. (Bitfinex); (5) Bitstamp USA Inc.; (6) Payward, Inc. (Kraken); (7) Bittrex, Inc.; (8) Circle Internet Financial Limited (Poloniex LLC); (9) Binance Limited; (10) Elite Way Developments LLP (Tidex.com); (11) Gate Technology Incorporated (Gate.io); (12) itBit Trust Company; and (13) Huobi Global Limited (Huobi.Pro).

    ETHNews will provide more details as they become available.

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