Digital currency firm Poloniex settles for $10.4M on SEC charges of running an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange

In a statement the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said, Poloniex has agreed to settle its charges of running an unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange for around $10.4 million.

The terms of the settlement includes Poloniex agreeing to settle without admitting or denying the charges.

Launched in 2014, Poloniex was acquired by Circle in 2018, which incidentally is a payments and digital currency firm whose backers include Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Last month, Circle announced plans to go public later this year through a merger with special-purpose acquisition company Concord Acquisition Corp in a deal that would value company at $4.5 billion.

According to the SEC’s charges, from July 2017 through November 2019, Poloniex operated a Web-based global trading platform, available to U.S. investors, that “facilitated buying and selling digital assets, including digital assets that were investment contracts and therefore securities.”

While operating its trading platform, Poloniex had not registered as a national securities exchange with US regulators, said the SEC.

“Poloniex chose increased profits over compliance with the federal securities laws by including digital asset securities on its unregistered exchange,” said Kristina Littman, SEC’s cyber unit  enforcement boss.

Incidentally, last week, SEC Commissioner Gary Gensler urged the US Congress to give the agency more teeth to police cryptocurrency trading, lending and platforms, which he termed as a “Wild West” riddled with fraud and investor risk.

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