Coinbase to pay $6.5M to settle CFTC trading probe

San Francisco: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which regulates the US derivatives markets has ordered cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase to pay $6.5 million to settle charges for reporting misleading data about transactions.

The order requires Coinbase to also cease and desist from any further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act or CFTC regulations, as charged, CFTC said on Friday.

“Reporting false, misleading, or inaccurate transaction information undermines the integrity of digital asset pricing,” Vincent McGonagle, Acting Director of Enforcement at CFTC, said in a statement.

“This enforcement action sends the message that the Commission will act to safeguard the integrity and transparency of such information.”

According to the order, between January 2015 and September 2018, Coinbase recklessly delivered false, misleading, or inaccurate reports concerning transactions in digital assets, including Bitcoin, on the GDAX electronic trading platform it operated.

During this period, Coinbase operated two automated trading programmes, Hedger and Replicator, which generated orders that at times matched with one another.

The GDAX Trading Rules specifically disclosed that Coinbase was trading on GDAX, but failed to disclose that Coinbase was operating more than one trading programme and trading through multiple accounts, CFTC said.

The order also finds that over a six-week period-August through September 2016-a former Coinbase employee used a manipulative or deceptive device by intentionally placing buy and sell orders in the Litecoin/Bitcoin trading pair on GDAX that matched each other as wash trades.

This created the misleading appearance of liquidity and trading interest in Litecoin, CFTC said.

According to a report in The Verge that cited a Coinbase spokesperson, the cryptocurrency exchange did not admit or deny the CFTC’s charges, and had “proactively engaged with the CFTC” over the course of its investigation.