CFTC Charges Digitex Founder Adam Todd With Running Illegal Crypto Derivatives Trading Platform

The regulator said Todd failed to register his service as a futures trading platform with the agency.

AccessTimeIconSep 30, 2022 at 5:14 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:17 p.m. UTC

Adam Todd, founder of crypto futures and spot market exchange Digitex, has been charged by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for multiple violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).

According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida on Friday, Todd is accused of using various corporate entities – including Digitex LLC, Digitex Ltd., Digitex Software Ltd. and Blockster Holdings Ltd. Corp., – to run an illegal crypto derivatives trading platform.

The CFTC’s enforcement action against Todd is one in a recent string of crypto-related lawsuits brought by the agency, which appears to be cracking down on lawbreakers in the digital-assets industry.

Michael Selig, a crypto attorney at the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, said that while the CFTC’s action against Todd and Digitex is the regulator’s first against a decentralized-finance (DeFi) platform for failing to register as an exchange, it’s not a surprise to anyone paying attention to what the regulator has been saying about DeFi platforms.

“Former CFTC Commissioner Dan Berkovitz foreshadowed this action in a June 2021 speech where he stated that ‘not only do I think that unlicensed DeFi markets for derivative instruments are a bad idea, I also do not see how they are legal under the CEA,;'” Selig said. “The Digitex action demonstrates that the CFTC is focused on both intermediaries that offer margin and financing to retail crypto-asset traders as well as the platforms.”

Because Todd and the Digitex platforms were never registered with the CFTC as futures commission merchants, the operation was a violation of the CEA, according to the complaint. Todd and the entities are further accused of failing to implement proper know-your-customer practices as required by the Bank Secrecy Act – a violation that can land rulebreakers in prison for up to five years.

Todd is also accused by the CFTC of attempting to manipulate Digitex’s native token, DGTX, using noneconomic trading to “pump” its price higher.

The CFTC is seeking civil monetary penalties, disgorgement, restitution, and trading and registration bans against Todd and the Digitex-related entities.


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Cheyenne Ligon

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.