FTX’s Cypriot license put on hold until March 2024

abdelaziz Fathi

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) has extended the suspension of FTX.com’s CIF license, which allowed the insolvent platform to operate throughout Europe, until March 31, 2024.

According to a regulatory circular, FTX EU cannot provide any services or enter into a business relationship with any person and take on any new clients as long as the authorisation suspension is in force.

In addition, the firm is not allowed to execute any orders from clients for buying financial instruments or provide any investment services in or outside of Cyprus. Furthermore, the suspended brand is not permitted to advertise itself as an investment services provider or has relating advertisements. They must also close all open positions in relation to clients’ contracts on their maturity date or upon their request, as well as return any funds and profits.

Earlier in 2022, the Cypriot chief regulator had asked FTX Europe to “suspend its operations and to proceed immediately with a number of actions for the protection of the investors”. The exchange was given a month to rectify what the regulator suspected were violations relating to the protection of client assets and the suitability of management.

The Cyprus branch, called FTX Europe, was among companies in FTX Group that filed for bankruptcy after the Sam Bankman-Fried-led exchange collapsed in dramatic fashion. In December, CySEC extended the suspension of FTX.com’s CIF license, which allowed the insolvent platform to operate throughout Europe, until March 31.

CySEC granted its authorization to FTX in September, allowing the exchange to launch its cryptocurrency service across the entire European Economic Area.

The suspension extension came despite FTX EU’s announcement that it has initiated a process to allow its customers to request the final balances ahead of withdrawing their fiat funds from the company’s segregated client accounts. The exchange noted that customers will need to check and verify their balances, and then proceed to submit withdrawal requests through a dedicated website set up for this purpose, ftxeurope.eu.

In response, Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission chairman George Theocharides blessed the move, confirming a previous report suggesting that CySEC approved the launch of FTX’s new website. Theocharides stressed that the watchdog is taking steps to protect the interests of FTX EU investors and is collaborating closely with its parent’s liquidators in the United States under Chapter 11.

Coinbase was reportedly in the final stages of negotiations to acquire FTX Europe, signaling its intent to expand in regions with well-defined cryptocurrency regulations. Coinbase’s interest in FTX Europe is primarily due to the profitability of its derivatives business and its increasing customer base. This shift is particularly notable given the decline in spot trading volumes amidst the bear market. Recent data indicates that the trading volume for crypto financial instruments tied to popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum was six times greater than the volume of spot trades.

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