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On the shutdown of Bittrex in the US and SEC actions — Bittrex Global CEO at Consensus 2023

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Oliver Linch, chief executive officer of cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex Global, has pushed back against the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), claiming the company never had a clear opportunity to discuss a potential enforcement action.

Speaking to Cointelegraph at the Consensus 2023 conference in Austin, Texas on April 28, Linch said there had been “precisely zero” communication between Bittrex Global and the SEC prior to the financial regulator issuing a Wells notice to the company’s U.S. counterpart in March. The SEC charged Bittrex in April for operating as an unregistered exchange, broker, and clearing agency and Bittrex Global “in connection with its operation of a single shared order book along with Bittrex.”

The Bittrex Global CEO echoed many of the complaints U.S.-based crypto companies have lobbed at the SEC in regards to its position on enforcement actions, hinting the “come in and talk to us” approach often espoused by chair Gary Gensler doesn’t hold water. Upon receiving a similar Wells notice from the SEC in March, Coinbase chief legal officer Paul Grewal said the firm had met with the financial regulator “more than 30 times over nine months” but largely did not receive any feedback.

“We never heard from them, they didn’t speak to us, they didn’t ask us for any information, they had no interaction with Bittrex Global whatsoever,” said Linch on the SEC. “It’s this uncertainty that permeates everything. You just don’t know what’s coming next or where it’s going to come from or why or how in the U.S.”

In March, Bittrex announced plans to wind down its U.S. operations by April 30, specifically citing the challenging regulatory and economic environment in the United States. At the time, the exchange said regulatory requirements for crypto firms in the U.S. were “often unclear and enforced without appropriate discussion or input”. It’s unclear if the firm reached this decision prior to its Well notice.

Related: Protocol Labs, Chainalysis and Bittrex add to crypto layoff season

Though Bittrex had operations in the United States, the global firm is regulated in Liechtenstein and Bermuda, which Linch claimed had some of the “most successful regulatory regimes in the world.” Coinbase reported in April it had received a license to operate in Bermuda as part of its plans for a derivatives exchange.

The Bittrex Global CEO suggested a “combination of regulations and regulators” as a potential winning recipe for crypto firms looking to start in the space — both the established framework for digital assets and policymakers willing and able to use it. Linch said he could see aspects of the European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA, framework modeled on regulations in Liechtenstein and Bermuda.

In the United States, however, many firms continue to cite the lack of regulatory clarity in weighing whether to move operations outside the country. Lawmakers recently questioned SEC chair Gensler on digital assets during committee hearings on oversight for the financial regulator.

Magazine: Crypto regulation: Does SEC Chair Gary Gensler have the final say?