Major Cryptocurrency Cases Probed by U.S. authorities

The charges that were brought against U.S. prosecutors against Sam Bankman-Fried, who founded the cryptocurrency exchange FTX on Tuesday, were among the most well-known charges filed against a crypto user. This was the latest in an array of cases involving cryptocurrency that U.S. officials and prosecutors are studying.
Here’s a short an overview of some of these criminal and civil cases and the outcomes of those cases:


The U.S. Justice Department in February indicted a husband and wife team with conspiracy to launder 119.754 bitcoins that were stolen when a hacker entered the digital currency exchange Bitfinex in the year 2016 and started more than 2,000 fraudulent transactions. The couple is engaged with prosecutors regarding the possibility of pledging guilty in court, according to court records.


The employees of BitMEX and the co-founders of the exchange have pleaded guilty in the past year for knowingly not establishing, implementing and sustain programs to combat money laundering. Co-founders of the company were found guilty before a federal court located in New York and each agreed to pay a 10 million criminal fine.

Another employee of the company admitted guilt, and agreed to pay a $150,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors first introduced these charges against criminals in the year 2020.

At the end of 2021, it arranged to settle a civil fine in order to settle charges separately from authorities from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) part from the U.S. Treasury Department.

A BitMEX spokesperson has refused to discuss the allegations against former employees.

In the days before the case was resolved with both the CFTC and FinCEN the company’s chief executive officer stressed the company’s solid compliance and anti-money-laundering capabilities.


A subsidiary of crypto-firm BlockFi Inc agreed to pay an unprecedented $100 million penalty in the direction of authorities such as the SEC as well as state regulatory authorities in order to settle civil claims for the interest-bearing loan product it offered to over 600,000 investors.

BlockFi who has filed for bankruptcy on November. 29 owes 30 million dollars of civil penalty of $50 million it has agreed to pay to the SEC in the court’s filing.

A spokesperson from the firm has not responded to requests for comments this week but in a statement made at the time, it said that the resolution of the matter is a good illustration of the company’s “pioneering efforts in securing regulatory clarity for the broader industry and our clients.”


The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office as well as the SEC in July convicted the former product manager of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase along with his brother and a friend in connection with an suspected trader insider scheme. The case was the first insider trading case involving cryptocurrency.

Former Coinbase employee has pleaded not to be guilty of the allegations. His brother modified an earlier plea to be guilty in an agreement with the prosecutors. A third defendant has been arrested however is still in the dark.

Coinbase has blasted the SEC’s allegations in a blog post posted at the time that the company does not have a securities listing as well as that it was seeking “regulation by enforcement.”


In the year 2019, U.S. authorities charged the suspected leaders of a multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme, which involved an untrue cryptocurrency called OneCoin. The leader is in hiding, while one of them pleaded guilty.


Federal Prosecutors have in Manhattan in June, charged a former manager of product at OpenSea which is an online marketplace that sells non-fungible tokens as well as insider trading. The case was the first time that a case of this kind was brought against digital assets.

Prosecutors claim that the former manager of product purchased NFTs using secret information about the tokens, as well as other ones from the same source are scheduled to be displayed on the OpenSea homepage.

OpenSea this week made reference to its previous statement on the accusations that it initiated an investigation and demanded employees to leave the company.


The SEC in December 2020 filed suit against the company that makes blockchain-based payments Ripple and two of its executives accusing them of conducting an $1.3 billion securities offering that was not registered.

The San Francisco-based company that was the first to create the cryptocurrency XRP back in the year 2012 is embroiled in a long-running dispute with the regulatory authorities.

Ripple has requested an arbitrator to declare XRP as not being a securities therefore not under SEC supervision. The case could have broad legal implications for the sector which is in an area of regulatory grey throughout the United States.

The spokesperson of Ripple has not provided an update on the company’s position this week.


The SEC in October 2019 stopped an $1.7 billion digital token that was not registered as an offering by the messaging company Telegram Group and its TON Issuer subsidiary. After a court battle lasting six months, Telegram agreed to pay an $18.5 million civil penalty, and then return $1.2 billion back to the investors.

The company was not able to admit or deny the findings by the SEC it did not respond to a request for comments.

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About the Author: Carlos Lopez