William Green pleads guilty of operating unregistered Bitcoin exchange

Rick Steves

William Green’s business converted more than $2 million in cash into the digital currency Bitcoin.

bitcoin

William Green has pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business after being charged in 2019 with operating an illegal bitcoin exchange.

The 53-year-old man from New Jersey operated a website called “Destination Bitcoin” from August 2017 through February 2019.

He received money from members of the public through cash, wire transfers into bank accounts controlled by Green, and online payment processors, which he would then convert the funds to bitcoin and transfer them to bitcoin wallet addresses provided by the customers while charging them a fee for this service.

As this operation constitutes a money transmitting business, which is required to register with the Secretary of the Treasury, Green admitted that he knew the law and failed to comply.

Money transmitting without a license carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 10, 2021.

William Green’s business converted more than $2 million in cash into the digital currency Bitcoin.

There is a growing consensus that 2021 will be a record year for anti-money laundering penalties. Federal regulators have imposed more than $200 million in penalties on corporations, just in the last two months.

“Companies should expect to see a continued focus on AML compliance in 2021 with regulators and law enforcement using the new tools they have been given through the AML Act, assessing increased monetary penalties, and making concerted efforts to monitor AML compliance of non-banking entities”, they wrote.

While William Green’s court case was in the state of New Jersey, other states are leading the charge against unregistered or unlicensed cryptocurrency businesses, namely New York.

In early March 2021, NY Attorney General Letitia James urged investors “extreme caution when investing in virtual currencies” and added, “we’re sending a clear message to the entire industry that you either play by the rules or we will shut you down.”

The alert to industry members serves as a reminder to brokers, dealers, salespersons, and investment advisors that the State of New York will not tolerate unregistered cryptocurrency operations. They could potentially face “both civil and criminal liability”.

Attorney General Letitia James said: “Too often, greedy industry players take unnecessary risks with investors’ money, but, today, we’re leveling the playing field and issuing alerts to both investors and industry members across the nation. All investors should proceed with extreme caution when investing in virtual currencies. Cryptocurrencies are high-risk, unstable investments that could result in devastating losses just as quickly as they can provide gains”.

The Attorney General Office has recently banned Bitfinex and Tether from operating in New York. The ruling followed a thorough investigation of 2.5 million documents that concluded that Tether falsely represented that each of its stablecoins were fully backed, one-to-one, by U.S. dollars in reserve at all times.

Bitfinex and Tether also made false statements about the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars between the two companies to cover up the truth about massive losses by Bitfinex.

The New York AG also banned crypto trading platform Coinseed from operating in the State after operating as an unregistered broker-dealer for more than three years while collecting over $1 million in investors’ assets.

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