As reported, the chief financial regulator in the United Kingdom issued a warning against Bahama-based crypto exchange, claiming it operates without authorization and is “targeting people in the UK.” This came as FTX was trying to secure a UK licence.
However, the Financial Times cited the exchange’s CEO Sam Bankman-Fried as saying that this warning came as a “surprise,” given that
FTX had been “in discussion with the FCA about licensing for a while.”
The report further cited “people with direct knowledge of the FCA’s process,” stating that this warning was indeed directed to FTX itself, not any impersonators.
This is relevant, given that soon after the regulator’s statement was issued, the CEO warned the public that “a scammer has been impersonating FTX in the UK by phone,” telling users that “FTX will never call you by phone.”
But, the above-mentioned people with knowledge of the matter said that the scam phone numbers included in the FCA’s statement may have been there by mistake.
Per the FT report,
“The FCA said the phone numbers had since been removed, and that it would not normally contact a company ahead of a warning notice unless the firm was UK registered.”
Companies that provide crypto trading or storage have to register with the FCA for anti-money laundering (AML) supervision, though overseas companies may be allowed to serve British customers if they do not have operations in the UK or try to sell their services in the country.
Bankman-Fried, however, argues that the exchange is already following the rules established by the country. He is quoted as stating:
“We believe we are in compliance with UK regulations but will as always act promptly if we receive any guidance from regulators.”
FTX is not the only major exchange to have battled this particular regulator.
In June 2021, the FCA issued a statement saying that Binance “is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the UK.” Then in August, it shared an update, noting that the FCA imposed requirements on Binance Markets Limited, and that the firm “complied with all aspects of the requirements,” but that it is still “unable to conduct regulated business in the UK.”
While Binance withdrew its application, the FT reported that it “has said it intends to repair relations and reapply for UK supervision.”
Meanwhile, the rumors have resurfaced that FTX is in talks with investors to raise up to $1 billion at a valuation of about $32 billion.