California judge junks lawsuit accusing Coinbase of insider trading
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has escaped a class-action lawsuit accusing the San Francisco-based company of artificially inflating the price of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) in December 2017. For now, that is.
In March, a group of investors led by Jeffrey Berk filed a lawsuit against Coinbase, alleging that the crypto exchange tipped its employees a month before launching the Bitcoin BCH trading on its platform. The lawsuit claimed, “Unsurprisingly, those who had been tipped off, immediately swamped Coinbase and the GDAX with buy and sell orders, thinning the liquidity but obtaining BCH at fair prices. The market effect was to unfairly drive up the price of BCH for non-insider traders once BCH came on line on the Coinbase exchange.”
U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California Vince Chhabria, however, saw it differently.
On Tuesday, Chhabria dismissed all claims without prejudice—with one exception—in Berk’s lawsuit on grounds that the “complaint does not sufficiently articulate the legal basis for his claims,” Coinbase reported. The judge noted that due to Berk’s failure to specifically describe the scope of Coinbase’s duty, “a reader of the complaint is thus left wondering what Coinbase should have done differently, or why the rollout of Bitcoin Cash would have gone more smoothly had Coinbase done whatever Berk thinks is appropriate.”
That one exception was Berk’s claim under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). According to the ruling, “Berk has a private right of action under the CEA only if he used Coinbase to make a ‘contract of sale of [a] commodity for future delivery’—in other words, a ‘futures contract.’”
In this particular claim, Berk cited the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) vs McDonnell case, but Chhabria pointed out that the Coinbase lawsuit “is not an enforcement action brought by the CFTC,” noting that “Because Berk used Coinbase to purchase Bitcoin Cash, rather than to make a contract to purchase Bitcoin Cash at a specific date in the future, he cannot maintain a claim under the CEA.”
Berk and his lawyers now have 21 days to file an amended complaint.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.
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