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  • Writer's pictureAkeju Abiola

Global Crypto Exchange KuCoin Faces Scrutiny from US Authorities

By Akeju Abiola

Kucoin app

As the cryptocurrency market enjoys one of its most impressive runs in recent years, with exchanges raking in significant revenues from increased user activity, the party has abruptly come to an end for a major player: KuCoin. In a shocking move, US authorities announced they had charged KuCoin with money laundering allegations. The company is now embroiled in a legal battle similar to the regulatory scrutiny Binance faced earlier in the year, with users withdrawing over $1 billion from the exchange in the last few days.

The lawsuit, which broke into mainstream media this week, has US federal prosecutors charging KuCoin, as well as its founders Chun Gan and Ke Tang, with violating anti-money laundering laws. The indictment alleges that KuCoin operated within the US without proper registration with government entities or the implementation of an anti-money laundering program, despite serving a substantial user base of over 30 million customers, an offense that contravenes US laws.

Adding to KuCoin's troubles, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has filed its lawsuit against the exchange. The CFTC accuses KuCoin of failing to register as a futures commission merchant, swap execution facility, or designated contract market. Moreover, KuCoin is alleged to have provided access to its services to US users without registering with the CFTC, a clear violation of the Commodity Exchange Act.

Both the DOJ and CFTC are seeking significant penalties against KuCoin. While the DOJ seeks forfeiture alongside criminal penalties, the CFTC seeks monetary penalties and trading bans, further exacerbating KuCoin's legal predicament.

These legal actions against KuCoin follow similar charges brought against Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, and concluded just months earlier. The coordinated efforts of the DOJ, CFTC, and Treasury Department underscore the US government's commitment to regulating the crypto industry and safeguarding investors' interests.

The timing of these legal actions is noteworthy, as this suit is against the backdrop of an impending Bitcoin halving and a period of relative market stability. This may be a contributing factor to why the general market reaction has been almost unnoticeable.

KuCoin, however, has seen significant outflows as users react to the news. They have witnessed a staggering withdrawal of over $1 billion in crypto assets in the past few days, causing their asset reserves to plummet from $6 billion to $4.8 billion.

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