The US Securities and Exchange Commission and the operator of the shuttered Bitcoin securities exchange BitFunder submitted a joint filing late on Friday in support of a settlement, saying the terms would be announced next month.
The exchange owner, Jon Montroll, is already spending 14 months behind bars for securities fraud and obstruction of justice. He was also fined nearly $170,000 after pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2019.
The two parties confirmed the news today and said the SEC’s staff has been awaiting the conclusion of the criminal proceeding against Montroll before finalizing its recommendation.
“The parties advised this Court that the Judge in the criminal case was going to hold a hearing on September 10, 2019 to make a restitution determination, which would finalize the criminal case,” according to the joint statement.
At the hearing, the judge requested “proposed restitution orders” from the parties in the criminal case, but he did not make a determination at that time. They further explained that the SEC and Montroll’s lawyers “ believe the determination will be made some time in October.” As such, the criminal case is still ongoing, and “the parties propose submitting the next status report on or around October 14.”
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The story of BitFunder and WeExchange
Montroll operated WeExchange Australia, which operated as a bitcoin depository and exchange service, and BitFunder.com, which functioned as a security token platform that allows users to sell virtual shares of different firms in exchange for cryptocurrencies.
Montroll subsequently came under investigation by the SEC which accused the owner of the Bitcoin venue Ukyo of not disclosing a cyberattack on BitFunder’s system that resulted in the theft of more than 6,000 bitcoins. Montroll did not disclose the hack and continued to solicit investments.
The agency also accused him of defrauding exchange users by misappropriating their assets. Prosecutors said Montroll defrauded investors by taking WeExchange users’ bitcoins for himself, selling them for fiat and spending proceeds on personal expenses.
The Bitcoin-denominated securities site, which launched in December 2012 and held around $16 million in assets, ceased operations in 2013 and transferred out leftover bitcoins to users.
Bitfunder was one of the most interesting parts of the cryptocurrency’s history because it allowed startups to raise funding for their businesses in a manner that may have been even easier than what is seen currently with the ICO phenomenon.