Crypto exchange BitMEX founder surrenders to face money laundering charges

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - One of the founders of pioneering crypto-derivatives exchange BitMEX surrendered to authorities to face charges that he schemed to avoid US anti-money laundering laws.

Benjamin Delo, who traveled to New York from the UK, was arraigned before US Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave during a remote proceeding on Monday (March 15). He pleaded not guilty and was released on a US$20 million (S$26.9 million) bail bond. The terms of his bail allow him to return to the UK.

An Oxford-educated computer scientist who previously created high-frequency trading systems for JPMorgan Chase & Co, Delo founded BitMEX with Arthur Hayes and Samuel Reed in 2014. Once the world's largest crypto-derivatives exchange, Bitmex invented perpetual Bitcoin futures that were easy for retail investors to understand and gained popularity for letting investors leverage their bets.

All three were charged in October by federal prosecutors in New York with flouting banking laws while serving US customers. The government said the executives ignored requirements that it register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and set up programs to make sure it wasn't used for illegal purposes.

"The charges against Ben are unfounded and represent unwarranted overreach by the US authorities," said Rachel Miller, a spokesperson for Delo. "Ben intends to defend himself against the charges and clear his name in court."

Federal prosecutors said earlier this month that Hayes was in Singapore and has discussed surrendering in Hawaii in early April. Reed was arrested in Massachusetts last year. A fourth defendant, Gregory Dwyer, the exchange's first employee and head of business development, is still at large.