The Walter Mitty School of Reporting: Wrong Doings or Poor Fact Collection as BitMEX Denies Reported Closure of Accounts

BitMEX has, in the past, been involved in a number of controversies, but none of which have been perpetuated and wrongly reported on by a major news outlet. The cryptocurrency exchange reported this week that a recent news report made about that featured a number of significant inaccuracies.

For example, the outlet in question reported that the exchange had stated that it would be residential accounts of customers from areas such as the United States as well as the city of Quebec. The report went on to further stipulate that the aforementioned closures were on account of a new wave of regulatory crackdowns.

The news outlet responsible for making these allegations was, in fact, Cointelegraph Japan, reported on this unusual, Walter Mitty-style story on Wednesday, 16th of January. While the news in question site isn't solely to blame, due to the fact that the story was published after a number of comments made by a representative member of the BitMEX team.

With regards to Cointelegraph Japan, BitMEX continued on to state that as many as six other inconsistent allegations were made about the exchange within its report, which was also published by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a news outlet based in Hong Kong.

The South China Morning Post posted in its story that BitMEX was taking steps in line with new regulatory guidelines to prevent traders that were active in the area of Quebec, which is both a City and a province of Canada, from trading on the platform. SCMP further alleged that this was because of a local regulatory body to the region, issuing the exchange with a letter in early-2018, which threatened legal action due to the lack of legal registration that it had within the region. The organization in question was alleged to have been the Autoritié des marchés financiers (the AMF).

According to the article, AMF had disclosed to the SCMP that resident traders on the BitMEX platform had had their accounts suspended and subsequently closed,

The South China Morning Post continued on to state that the same regulatory crackdown was coming into effect for resident traders active within the United States. Allegedly, this was in tandem with the growing prevalence of enforcement from the countries securities regulatory authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Citing an otherwise undisclosed range of ‘insider' sources, the report goes on to specify that, while Asia is responsible for the majority of trading activity for BitMEX in terms of transactions and trading volume overall. A close second and major market in its own right would be the United States, making any regulatory clampdown disastrous for the exchange… Were it true.

SCMP continues on to cite another range of unsubstantiated and otherwise unnamed sources throughout the article. Going on to estimate that the pool of users operating within the United States made up a total of one-seventh of the total user base of the cryptocurrency coin exchange.

The Post goes onto attaching an implicit correlation to the recently mandated account closures and subsequent declines in the overall trading volume on the BitMEX trading platform over the last month. This reportedly resulted in a decline of as much as 50 percent for it.

When approached for a comment regarding this report, BitMEX resolutely refuted the claims, informing news reported that the platform had officially ‘banned all US Traders' for a total of nearly four years now. BitMEX spokesman went on to stated that it operated proactively. back in 2015 to close accounts under the guidance from a range of US regulatory agencies, more specifically from the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The company went on to stress:

“BitMEX has always retained the right to close [accounts] where any BitMEX trading participant has given false representations as to their location or place of residence. This has been a normal part of our process.”

BitMEX had added that, by the end of 2018, is intended to inform new and existing users of this change in its protocol through adding a range of banners and popups to its platform, so as not to catch and consumers unaware.

The coin exchange further added that there was no correlation that existed with regards to the one manifested by the SCMP regarding the increase in closure of American accounts and the subsequent slump in trading volumes, arguing that that the decline in question was down to a range of factors of the time, specifically attributes such as the ongoing market slump in the cryptocurrency space, the resultant volatility in crypto prices, as well as an overall decline in trading volumes across the exchange.

When further questioned by Cointelegraph Japan, regarding the AMF's submitted letter and actions against the exchange, regarding the closure of account holders in Quebec, the representative speaking on behalf of BitMEX gave the following response:

“Unfortunately, the SCMP article sensationalized what went on with the Authority des Marches Financiers (AMF). The AMF reached out to BitMEX with a request to assist Quebec regulators in identifying and closing accounts from Quebec. Throughout the execution, we kept the AMF updated on progress. And upon completion, the AMF informed us that they were satisfied with the expeditious completion of the request.”

The exchange further stated to news outlets, including CT Japan, that within the exchanges terms of service, which has always been concrete in its wording since it was established, based on lists from the US Department of the Treasury, and based off the OFAC (Office of Foreign Asset Control):

“Residents of the United States of America or Québec (Canada) are prohibited from holding positions or entering into contracts at BitMEX. Residents of Cuba, Crimea and Sevastopol, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Sudan, or any other jurisdiction where the services offered by BitMEX are restricted are also prohibited.”

BitMEX stressed the point that it is in a state of legal incorporation within the region of Seychelles, and has been for a number of years and not Hong Kong as was alleged by SCMP. The South China Morning Post went so far as to refer to BitMEX as a ‘Hong Kong-based coin exchange' on several occasions.

The only way that Hong Kong and BitMEX have been within the same phrase was when it reportedly struck up a partnership with a company that was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in order to acquire and become a majority stakeholder in the licensed but since native, Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange.

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