BitMEX co-founder Ben Delo surrendered to US officials on money laundering charges.
Delo, who traveled from the UK to New York, was tried before the US Magistrate Sarah L. Cave in the remote trial Monday, claimed not to be guilty, and received a $ 20 million bail guarantee. Delo can now return to the UK in line with the conditions set forth in the bond.
On 3/15/21, Ben Delo pleaded not guilty, was released on $20,000,000 bond, permitted to travel to the UK and Bermuda, surrendered his Grenada passport and Hong Kong Identity Card but is permitted to retain his UK passport and executed a waiver of extradition. #BItMEX pic.twitter.com/438IdG4S8q
— Pavel Pogodin, Esq. (@ppogodin) March 16, 2021
“The charges against him are unfounded and represent unfair access by US authorities,” Delo spokesperson Rachel Miller said in a statement. “I want to defend himself against the charges and clear his name in court,” he added.
Delo, an Oxford-educated mathematician, is best known as the co-founder of the crypto trading exchange BitMEX. The firm was one of the largest crypto futures exchanges in the world for the majority of its existence, but has since lost leadership to other firms such as Binance and FTX.
In October 2020, Delo, along with two other BitMEX co-founders Arthur Hayes and Samuel Reed and the firm’s first employee, Gregory Dwyer, was named in the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fee table.
They were accused of failing to implement an adequate money laundering program or of maintaining an elaborate Know Your Customer process while offering its services to US citizens.
At the time, the team said they would defend the allegations “strongly” through a company spokesperson.
Prosecutors in the indictment said BitMEX was a ready “tool” for money laundering and sanctions violations, including allegations that a cryptocurrency hack was used to launder revenues and that customers from Iran were traded on their platform. Under US law, they are subject to a maximum of five years in prison.
They added that the company had registered with the Seychelles to escape judgment and regulations. Hayes was reported to have even said that the country’s officials could be bribed with “just a coconut.”
However, the law soon found its way. Hayes and Delo were released while Reed was arrested in Massachusetts. FBI Deputy Director William Sweeney said at the time that the defendants “will soon learn that the tropical fruits will not be paid for their alleged crimes.”
For now, Hayes is reportedly in Singapore, where he discussed the possibility of surrendering in April. Dwyer is still missing.