SEC clamps down on major decentralised exchange EtherDelta

EtherDelta was the largest decentralised cryptocurrency exchange in 2017, listing the vast majority of ERC20 tokens. Now it looks on the brink of collapse with former owner Zachary Coburn being charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission

The founder of EtherDelta, Zachary Coburn, has been charged by the US SEC with ‘operating an unregistered exchange’, according to a report published today by the Commission.

It is the SEC’s ‘first enforcement action based on findings that such a platform operated as an unregistered national securities exchange’.

EtherDelta is one of the largest decentralised exchanges in the cryptocurrency space; it runs on the Ethereum blockchain and uses smart contracts to enable a peer-to-peer trading experience. More than 3.6 million buy and sell orders in ERC20 tokens, including securities, were facilitated by the exchange from 12th July 2016 and 15th December 2017.

In the SEC’s book EtherDelta meets the ‘criteria of an exchange’, as defined by Section 3(a)(1) of the Exchange Act. Cobrun decided not to register the exchange with the Commission and as a result he was aware of EtherDelta’s violations.

He eventually sold the platform to ‘foreign buyers’ in December 2017 and ceased the collection of trading fees thereafter.

Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Coburn agreed to pay $300,000 in disgorgement in addition to $13,000 in prejudgement interest and a $75,000 penalty.

The move by the SEC comes one week after EtherData competitor, IDEX, implemented a KYC and AML model, much to the dismay of its users.

Almost all of the orders placed through EtherDelta’s platform were traded after the SEC’s 2017 DAO report, which stated that they regarded a number of ICO tokens as securities.

For Coin Rivet’s comprehensive guide to cryptocurrency exchanges, click here.

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