The BitMEX cryptocurrency exchange plans to be revived in a new guise in Switzerland after being prosecuted in the United States.
The portal swissinfo.ch has published news: BitMEX CEO Alexander Höptner wants to develop a business in Switzerland as a fully licensed securities dealer or crypto exchange.
“Achieving self-regulatory status for our brokerage business is just a natural first step,” he told SWI swissinfo.ch.
Switzerland is developing crypto regulations from 2018. Cryptoexchanges are legal but need to obtain license form FINMA, the local regulator. Last year, the law “On Adaptation of Federal Law to the Development of Distributed Electronic Registry Technologies” came into force. It spelled out rules for cryptocurrency licensing, trading, and anti-money laundering.
BitMEX was founded in 2014 and is registered in the Seychelles. The company was once a world leader in the market for cryptocurrency derivatives – financial contracts that allow investors to bet on the future price of underlying assets. At the time of writing BitMEX was on the 31st line in Coinmarketcap's trade volumes chart.
The original news about BitMEX plans for Switzerland appeared in BitMEX blog as early as in 2021. According to their plan they expected to open office in Zurich and/or Zug in January 2022. The company saw the move to Switzerland as "crucial to fulfilling our ‘Beyond Derivatives’ strategy, which will broaden the services we offer and expand our global impact"
Last year US authorities fined BitMEX $100 million for violating anti-money laundering laws. Three of the co-founders were recently fined $10 million. Another former executive pleaded guilty to crimes in September and was fined $150,000.
Höptner wants to move the BitMEX group headquarters from the Seychelles to a less controversial jurisdiction, as well as a place where it will be possible to start from scratch.
“We need to pick a home ground where crypto and DLT are safely regulated but which enables us to operate on a global scale,” said Höptner.
In turn, Höptner also publicly offered FINMA its assistance in further developing set of rules for crypto derivates trading in Switzerland.
“Structuring a crypto derivatives trading law is a unique opportunity for Switzerland to take a globally leading position. But it’s not an easy decision to take,” said Höptner. “If everything works out then everybody around the world will applaud you, but if something bad happens then you are the big loser. It depends on the appetite of local lawmakers on whether they want to take such a lighthouse position.”
Similar to traditional financial markets, the volume of trading in crypto derivatives is much larger than the market for the direct purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies. Let's see what the Swiss authorities will say to such a proposal from a large company with an ambiguous past. Just yesterday, the company had major problems with the law, and today it is advising one of the most crypto-friendly countries.
UPD: as of Oct. 24 there’s been no update on the reaction from Swiss authorities. Either they are thoroughly studying the proposal or the BitMEX reputation has taken its toll…