U.S. Crypto Exchange Bittrex Files for Bankruptcy in Delaware

Bittrex already announced its intention to exit the U.S., but also faces an SEC enforcement action.

AccessTimeIconMay 8, 2023 at 9:38 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 2:29 p.m. UTC

Crypto exchange Bittrex has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. state of Delaware on Monday, months after announcing it would wind down operations in the country and weeks after being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The exchange believes it has more than 100,000 creditors, with estimated liabilities and assets both within the $500 million to $1 billion range, according to a court filing shared by Randall Reese of Chapter 11 Dockets, a bankruptcy tracker.

Bittrex's U.S. branch has had a rough 2023 so far, laying off 80 people in February and announcing in March that it would end all operations by the end of April. These changes have not affected Bittrex Global, the non-U.S. crypto exchange.

Despite Bittrex's impending exit from the U.S., the SEC sued it in mid-April on allegations it operated a national securities exchange, broker and clearing agency. The SEC also sued former Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara and Bittrex Global. Bittrex Global CEO Oliver Linch said last month that the exchange intended to fight these charges in court, but a bankruptcy proceeding may make this more difficult.

Bittrex is the latest crypto entity to file for bankruptcy, joining fellow exchange FTX and a host of lenders like Celsius, Voyager and BlockFi.

In filings made at the Delaware Court, Evan Hengel, the company's Co-Chief Restructuring Officer of Bittrex, said that customers would get a "100 percent like-kind cryptocurrency distribution" under its liquidation plan, enabling them to access the Bittrex platform and withdraw their crypto.

The company "faced an untenable regulatory and economic environment" given "the lack of regulatory clarity in the U.S. [which] created a substantial negative economic impact on the digital asset industry and resulted in overlapping regulatory burdens and soaring regulatory costs," Hengel said.

Richie Lai, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the company, tweeted that the bankruptcy filing was the "cleanest way to bury the baby," but that Bittrex "still have 100% of all customer funds."

UPDATE (May 9, 07:30 UTC): Adds comments from Evan Hengel, Richie Lai.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.