Bittrex: ‘North Korean’ Accounts Flagged by NYDFS Were South Korean

Marc Hochstein
Apr 22, 2019 at 19:40 UTC
Updated Apr 22, 2019 at 20:21 UTC
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Crypto exchange Bittrex said Monday that New York regulators erred in identifying two of its users as North Korean.

In a statement issued Monday, Bittrex said it had reviewed two accounts that were flagged as belonging to residents of the sanctioned country by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), which recently rejected the exchange’s application for a BitLicense.

It turned out that the same two users had already been investigated by the exchange in October 2017, Bittrex said, adding:

“South Korean residents mistakenly selected North Korea in our country dropdown menu, but we determined through country identification, physical and IP address that ALL were from South Korea.”

In an op-ed published in CoinDesk Thursday, Shirin Emami, the¬†executive deputy superintendent for banking at NYDFS, stated that when the agency’s examiners sampled Bittrex accounts earlier this year, they identified two based in North Korea.

“More may exist,” she wrote. “At least one North Korean account was active into 2017,” along with two accounts in another sanctioned country, Iran, that were active during this year’s examination.

In a rebuttal issued the same day, Bittrex denied having any accounts in either country this year. But Monday’s statement represented the first time the company explained why NYDFS might have thought two of the accounts in question were North Korean.

Sanctions compliance is one of several issues NYDFS cited for denying a license to Bittrex, along with broader anti-money-laundering (AML) practices and the exchange’s coin listing process.

A Bittrex spokesperson said the company had “nothing to add” regarding the alleged Iranian accounts. An NYDFS spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

North Korea/South Korea image via Shutterstock.

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