OSC settles with unregistered crypto firm

By James Langton | October 13, 2022 | Last updated on October 13, 2022
2 min read
© Burmakin Andrey / 123RF Stock Photo

Offshore crypto trading firm Aux Cayes Fintech Co. Ltd. is paying about $1.2 million to resolve allegations that it violated securities laws and ignored the Ontario Securities Commission’s (OSC) entreaty to get registered.

Ontario’s Capital Markets Tribunal approved a settlement on Wednesday between OSC staff and Seychelles-based Aux Cayes, which operates the OKX platform, that will see the firm pay a $600,000 penalty, US$514,950 in disgorgement and $25,000 in costs to resolve the regulator’s enforcement case.

In settling the action, the firm admitted to violating Ontario’s registration and prospectus requirements.

Aux Cayes is one of several foreign crypto firms that has faced disciplinary sanctions from the OSC after allegedly failing to respond to a demand from the regulator in March 2021 to start the process of getting registered by April 19, 2021, or face possible disciplinary action.

According to the settlement, Aux Cayes had opened more than 21,000 accounts for investors in Ontario since its launch in 2017 — although only about 1,500 of them saw any trading — generating over US$500,000 in revenues for the firm.

After being contacted by the OSC in May 2021, the firm promised to close accounts opened by investors in Ontario, and it took steps aimed to block investors’ access to its platform from Ontario.

However, the settlement noted that the firm initially refused to provide the OSC with information about its accounts in Ontario, at one point claiming it had deleted the information to comply with data protection and privacy requirements. “This representation was incorrect,” the settlement said.

Eventually, in June 2022, the firm turned over the information requested by the regulator.

The firm has since started discussions with the OSC about pursuing registration and has provided an undertaking to the regulator, agreeing to limit its business while those discussions are ongoing and to exit the market if its efforts to get registered fail.

Any revenues generated by the Ontario accounts in the meantime will be donated to the Prosper Canada Centre for Financial Literacy, the settlement said.

“Regulators across the globe serve to protect the investing public and preserve the integrity of the capital markets in their respective jurisdictions; therefore, it is imperative that foreign market participants, including online crypto asset trading platforms, make a real and meaningful effort to identify and comply with local securities laws prior to entering a jurisdiction,” the settlement said.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for Advisor.ca and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.