Skip to main content
Press Release

Global Cryptocurrency Exchange BitMEX Pleads Guilty To Bank Secrecy Act Offense

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Company Willfully Flouted U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Laws

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Christie M. Curtis, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that HDR GLOBAL TRADING LIMITED, a/k/a “Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange” or “BitMEX” (“BITMEX”), pled guilty today to violating the Bank Secrecy Act by willfully failing to establish, implement, and maintain an adequate anti-money laundering (“AML”) program.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As BitMEX’s founders and long-time employee admitted in federal court in 2022, the company, one of the leading cryptocurrency derivatives platforms in the world from 2015 to 2020, operated in the United States without any meaningful anti-money laundering program, as required by federal law.  As a result, BitMEX opened itself up as a vehicle for large-scale money laundering and sanctions evasion schemes, posing a serious threat to the integrity of the financial system.  Today’s guilty plea indicates again the need for cryptocurrency companies to comply with U.S. law if they take advantage of the U.S. market.”  

FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Christie M. Curtis said: “By only mandating lax service access credentials, BitMEX not only failed to comply with nationally required anti-money laundering procedures designed to protect the US financial markets from illicit actors and transactions, but knowingly did so to increase the business’s revenue.  Today’s plea represents the FBI’s steadfast dedication to ensuring adherence to all U.S. financial laws, protecting the U.S. financial system, and holding accountable those who attempt to establish a workaround for profits.”

According to the allegations in the Information and other filings and statements made in court:

Arthur Hayes, Benjamin Delo, and Samuel Reed founded BITMEX in or about 2014, and Gregory Dwyer became BITMEX’s first employee in 2015 and later its Head of Business Development.  BITMEX, which has long serviced and solicited business from U.S. traders and also operated through U.S. offices, was required to register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) and to establish and maintain an adequate AML program.  AML programs ensure that financial institutions, such as BITMEX, are not exploited for illicit purposes and serve to protect the integrity of the U.S. financial system and national security, more broadly.

The company and its executives knew that because BITMEX operated in the United States, including by serving U.S. customers, it was required to implement an AML program that included a “know your customer” (“KYC”) component but chose to flaunt those requirements, requiring only that customers provide an email address to use BITMEX’s services.  Indeed, senior executives each knew that customers residing in the United States continued to access BITMEX’s trading platform through at least in or about 2018 and that BITMEX policies nominally in place to prevent such trading were toothless or easily overridden to serve BITMEX’s bottom line goal of obtaining revenue through the U.S. market without regard to U.S. criminal laws.  Corporate executives took affirmative steps purportedly designed to exempt BITMEX from the application of U.S. laws like AML and KYC requirements, despite knowing of BITMEX’s obligation to implement such programs by operating in the United States.  As part of BITMEX’s willful evasion of U.S. AML laws, the company lied to a bank about the purpose and nature of a subsidiary to allow the company to pump millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system.

*                *                *

HDR GLOBAL TRADING LIMITED, an entity incorporated in the Republic of Seychelles, pled guilty to one count of violating the Bank Secrecy Act, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine. 

The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s New York Money Laundering Investigation Squad and thanked the attorneys and investigators at the CFTC whose expertise and diligence were integral to the development of this investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Illicit Finance and Money Laundering Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica Greenwood, Samuel Raymond, and Thane Rehn are in charge of the prosecution. 


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford
(212) 637-2600

Updated July 10, 2024

Press Release Number: 24-244