Business 18 April 2018

Ed Drake

New York’s AG opens inquiry into cryptocurrency exchanges

Regulators in the state of New York have announced an inquiry into several leading cryptocurrency exchanges, with as many as 13 separate operations coming in for closer scrutiny.

The inquiry has been instigated by the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as part of the state’s new ‘Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative,’ with the initial enquiry described as “a fact-finding inquiry into the policies and practices.”

According to a press release issued by the New York Attorney General’s Office this week, initial letters were sent to over a dozen exchanges, requesting information about their business practices and systems—including whether they currently use bots, or whether they have any conflicts of interest.

Schneiderman described the move as part of a drive to help consumers gleam the ‘basic facts’, vis a vis transparency and accountability in their investments.

“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,” he said.

The exchanges targeted reads like an industry who’s who, covering the majority of major operators in the sector. The full list has seen bitFlyer, Binance, GDAX, Gemini, itBit, Huobi.Pro, Bitfinex, Poloniex Bitstamp, Bittrex, Gate.io, Tidex and Kraken all targeted with initial requests for information.

Suggesting the move was about focusing on ‘key issues’ affecting consumer investors, Schneiderman’s office said that it was preparing to extend its focus to exchanges that specifically choose not to operate within New York, on account of its current regulatory regime.

“We are aware that certain trading platforms have formal rules barring access in New York and may not have a license to engage in virtual currency business activity in New York. Among other topics, we are asking platforms to describe their measures for restricting trading from prohibited jurisdictions,” the attorney general’s office stated.

The news comes at a time of increasing scrutiny for cryptocurrency exchanges, with regulators worldwide turning their focus to exchanges, as well as developing local systems for regulating cryptocurrency businesses.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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