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Cryptocurrency firm executive to face US money-laundering charges next year

Gregory Dwyer (File photograph)

An Australian cryptocurrency executive extradited from Bermuda has had his trial in America delayed to give him more time to prepare.

Gregory Dwyer agreed to be extradited to the US in September to face alleged breaches of anti-money laundering laws in connection with BitMEX, a cryptocurrency firm with Bermuda operations.

He was at first scheduled to stand trial in the US alongside three other defendants, who prosecutors allege broke banking laws by knowingly accepting fake passports from Iran-based traders while the country was subject to US sanctions.

All four have denied the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

But District Judge John Koeltl, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York, agreed to sever Mr Dwyer’s case from that of his co-defendants because his fight against his extradition from Bermuda had given him less time to prepare.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Judge Koeltl said that because Mr Dwyer’s legal team had only recently become involved in proceedings, it would be prejudicial to have him stand trial with his co-accused next spring.

Judge Koeltl added: “The defendant will have had substantially less time than the other defendants to prepare for trial and would be prejudiced by the lack of time to prepare for this complex case.”

Mr Dwyer’s trial was scheduled for next October, but co-accused, Arthur Hayes, Ben Delo and Sam Reed, will appear in court in March 2022.

All four worked at BitMEX, a major cryptocurrency exchange said by US regulators to be a “platform for money laundering”.

Mr Dwyer, 38, who lived in Warwick, was charged on October 1 last year with violation of the US Bank Secrecy Act and conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act.

The Act requires financial institutions to assist the US Government to combat money- laundering schemes.

Magistrates’ Court in Bermuda heard on July 1 that the District Court for the Southern District of New York had requested that Mr Dwyer be extradited to the US to face the charges, but Mr Dwyer requested a hearing.

The indictment alleged the BitMEX exchange was used by hackers to launder stolen money and by people in countries under US sanctions, including Iran.

US prosecutors allege the company solicited and accepted customers in the US, although it was not registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

It is also alleged the company continued to try and attract US business after it incorporated itself in the Seychelles in an attempt to avoid US oversight.

BitMEX last year denied the allegations and insisted it had “always sought to comply with applicable US laws, as those laws were understood at the time and based on available guidance”.

BitMEX was launched in 2014 as a platform for exchanging cryptocurrencies derivatives, which allows traders to make money from the performance of digital currencies.

Two of its associated companies are registered in Bermuda.

They were formed after Mr Hayes visited Bermuda in 2018 and met David Burt, the Premier, and Wayne Caines, then national security minister, who was leading the Government’s fintech drive.

Mr Burt tweeted photos of the meeting and wrote that Mr Hayes “met our #FinTech team to learn more about our digital asset regulation, with a view to establishing a BitMEX office in Bermuda”.

HDR Global Services (Bermuda) was incorporated on the island as an exempted software technology development company in July 2018.

HDR Capital Ltd, an investment holding firm, was incorporated in April 2019.

The firms are understood to be based at Seon Place, on Front Street in Hamilton.

Mr Dwyer and the three other men resigned from their roles at BitMEX and at sister company, 100x Group, last October.

Mr Reed, the chief technology officer of BitMEX, was arrested on October 6 last year. He has since been released on $5 million bail.

Mr Hayes, who was based in Singapore and is chief executive officer of the company, turned himself in to authorities on April 6. He is at present on $10 million bail.

Mr Delo, the UK’s first billionaire from cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the country’s youngest self-made billionaire, also turned himself in to authorities on March 15 and was released on $20 million bail.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.