HONG KONG (Reuters) – Top executives at BitMEX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency derivatives exchanges, will step back from their roles, the company said on Thursday, a week after U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against them.
The company said last week it would “vigorously” fight the allegations after the U.S Department of Justice charged the exchange’s three founders, Arthur Hayes, Samuel Reed and Benjamin Delo with violating the federal Bank Secrecy Act. Gregory Dwyer, its first employee, was also charged.
Prosecutors said BitMEX had made itself a “vehicle” for money laundering and sanctions violations.
BitMEX said Hayes and Reed have “stepped back from all executive management responsibilities for their respective CEO and CTO roles with immediate effect,” adding they and Delo would not hold executive positions and that Dwyer would take a leave of absence from his role as head of business development.
Chief Operating Officer Vivien Khoo, will take over as chief executive. She previously held roles at Goldman Sachs and Hong Kong’s markets watchdog.
The statement said the management changes had been made with the “full approval” of the founders.
‘These changes to our executive leadership mean we can focus on our core business of offering superior trading opportunities for all our clients,” David Wong, chairman of 100x Group, BitMEX’s parent, said in the statement.
Hayes and Delo did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent via their social media profiles and Reed could not be reached for comment. Dwyer’s lawyer, Sean Hecker, who earlier said his client would contest the charges, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
BitMEX is one of the world’s largest bitcoin futures trading platforms, popular for its high liquidity and compliance requirements that are seen as less onerous than those for futures venues regulated in major financial centres.
(Reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong and Tom Wilson in London; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)