By Pete Schroeder and Hannah Lang
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. bank regulator ordered crypto exchange FTX on Friday to halt what it called “false and misleading” claims the exchange had made about whether funds at the company are insured by the government.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said a July tweet by Brett Harrison, head of FTX’s U.S. operations, contained misleading claims that funds held at and stocks purchased through FTX were FDIC insured, and ordered the company to remove any misleading language from its social media accounts and websites.
In the tweet, which Harrison has since deleted, he stated that direct deposits from employers to the crypto exchange are ‘stored in individually FDIC-insured bank accounts’ and that stocks purchased via FTX US ‘are held in FDIC-insured’ brokerage accounts. The FDIC said in its cease and desist letter to FTX US that those statements implied that FDIC insurance was available for cryptocurrency and stock holdings, and that the agency does not insure brokerage accounts.
In a tweet on Friday, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried emphasized FTX is not FDIC-insured, and apologized if anyone misinterpreted previous comments.
The order, one of five sent to crypto firms by the FDIC on Friday, comes as regulators have ramped up efforts to police crypto firms that may be misleading investors on whether their funds enjoy a government backstop. The issue has come to a head of late, as turmoil in the crypto market has led to stress and the collapse of some high profile firms.
The bank regulator issued a similar cease and desist letter to bankrupt crypto firm Voyager Digital , arguing that the company had misled customers by claiming their funds with Voyager would be covered by the FDIC. Later, the FDIC issued an advisory urging banks dealing with crypto companies to ensure that customers are aware of what types of assets are government-insured, particularly in cases where firms offer a mix of uninsured crypto products alongside insured bank deposit products.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder and Hannah LangEditing by Tomasz Janowski)