BitFunder Operator 'Close to' Plea Bargain in SEC Fraud Case

The operator of defunct bitcoin investment platform BitFunder is negotiating a plea deal over criminal charges laid against him by the SEC.

AccessTimeIconJul 20, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:11 a.m. UTC
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The operator of defunct bitcoin investment platform BitFunder, Jon Montroll, is reportedly seeking a plea bargain over fraud and other charges laid against him by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

indicated Thursday that, according to a document submitted by Montroll's legal counsel, "a plea agreement agreed upon in principle and expected to be finalized and entered by July 23" has accelerated efforts to reach a final court resolution.

Back in February, Montroll was hit with a number of charges for operating what the SEC said was an "unregistered securities exchange" and allegedly using the platform to defraud users of their cryptocurrency.

Separately, Montroll is accused of perjury and obstruction of justice over his failure to report a hack of his second business, WeExchange, in 2013. The breach ultimately saw roughly 6,000 bitcoins stolen – now worth some $68.7 million. The accused reportedly transferred some of his own cryptocurrency holdings to the exchange in an attempt to conceal the losses.

According to the New York Attorneys Office, William F. Sweeney Jr., FBI assistant director-in-charge, commented:

"As alleged, Montroll committed a serious crime when he lied to the SEC during sworn testimony.  In an attempt to cover up the results of a hack that exploited weaknesses in the programming code of his company, he allegedly went to great lengths to prove the balance of bitcoins available to BitFunder users in the WeExchange Wallet was sufficient to cover the money owed to investors. It's said that honesty is always the best policy – this is yet another case in which this virtue holds true."

With the anticipated plea deal set to be finalized next week, negotiations between Montroll and the SEC are expected to reach a conclusion in the next three months, if not earlier.

Gavel image via Shutterstock

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