Youngest British billionaire and Bitcoin Exchange co-founder charged with money laundering in United States

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The youngest self-made British billionaire and founder of the Bitcoin exchange has been accused in the United States of not deliberately preventing money laundering.Ben Delo, 36, an Oxford graduate, is charged along with three other BitMEX co-founders of conspiring to violate the Bank Secrecy Act, according to an indictment filed with the Southern District of New York on Thursday.

Mr. Delo, Arthur Hayes and Samuel Reed, who jointly founded the cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform in 2014, were required to register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and set up a program anti-money laundering, but have “chosen to ignore these requirements,” say US prosecutors.

While knowing BitMEX’s obligation to implement anti-money laundering programs because they served US clients, the founders formally incorporated the company in Seychelles – a jurisdiction they said had less stringent regulations.

The accusations are the latest in a year of efforts by the United States to crack down on a once largely unregulated cryptocurrency market.

“Along with the opportunities and benefits of operating a financial institution in the United States comes the obligation for these companies to do their part to help drive out crime and corruption,” said Audrey Strauss, US Attorney by Manhattan interim.

“As alleged, these defendants have ignored this obligation and have undertaken to operate an allegedly ‘off-shore’ crypto exchange while willfully failing to implement and maintain anti-money laundering policies, even basic.

Mr Dwyer’s legal representatives said: “We are surprised and appalled by today’s action. Our client, Greg Dwyer, who fully complied with the CFTC investigation and has never been so invited to speak to prosecutors at the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, has always worked in good faith to be complying with all applicable regulations and requirements… will strongly challenge these accusations. ”

Mr. Delo began his career as a software engineer at IBM, where he was named inventor on several issued patents.

He then founded BitMEX with Mr Hayes, which was estimated to be worth $ 3.6 billion (£ 2.8 billion) in 2018. Mr Delo owns 30% of the company, which is his net worth. over a billion dollars.

The Sunday Times later in the year named him the UK’s youngest billionaire.

Mr Delo, who now lives with his wife in Hong Kong, told the newspaper that he “only owns three pairs of shoes – sneakers, a pair of ‘sane’ leather brogues and flip flops” and that he and his wife “uses special shoes to offer coupons when they buy meals at McDonald’s.” ”

He’s donated millions of them over the years, including to his alma mater.

In 2019, he signed The Giving Pledge, a program orchestrated by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, announcing his intention to cede at least half of his wealth during his lifetime.

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