- From Craig Wright to Tether, there have been some huge crypto legal cases this year
- 2022 will see Ripple, BitMEX executives, and Craig Wright (again) enter the courtroom
- Here’s a reminder of the big crypto legal cases of 2022
There has been plenty to interest fans of the law and crypto in 2021, from the blockbuster Kleiman vs Wright case to Tether pronouncing itself not guilty after settling with the CFTC and the Office of the Attorney General, and 2022 will be no different. What can we look forward to from a legal perspective next year, and what are the cases to watch?
Securities and Exchange Commission vs Ripple
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hit Ripple with a charge of securities fraud in December last year, a charge which resulted in the token price bombing as exchanges delisted the token en masse to avoid any unpleasant entanglements with the SEC.
However, the SEC has suffered several small defeats in 2021 in relation to the case, leading to many feeling that Ripple has a good chance of winning the case, which should be settled in 2022. As we discussed earlier in the year, the XRP token will very likely explode whatever happens in the SEC/Ripple case, unless criminal charges result from the case, which is a virtual impossibility.
At worst Ripple will get a fine, which will be higher than other such cases given Ripple’s determination to fight rather than settle, but should the courts fall on their side then the ramifications would be massive for the entire crypto space, going a long way to settling the seemingly never-ending discussion over whether cryptocurrencies are securities or not.
Australian Tax Office vs Craig Wright
Alongside Craig Wright’s multiple court cases which will be settled in 2022, there is also the prospect of a criminal charge by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Wright’s claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto date back to 2014 when the ATO began investigating him for tax fraud, with Wright claiming he created Bitcoin and mined millions which he used to claim back R&D tax rebates from the ATO.
ATO investigations are known to take around 10 years on average, and with the investigations into Wright beginning around 2011 and known to be ongoing, there is the potential for him to be hit with criminal tax fraud charges this year…a simply delicious proposition for the man who has said he will win any and all court cases.
CFTC vs BitMEX Executives
BitMEX co-founders and executives Arthur Hayes, Ben Delo, and Samuel Reed were hit with one count of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and one count of conspiracy by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in October 2020. Reed was arrested soon after the charges were released, but Delo and Hayes were tougher to track down, with Hayes only agreeing to face a judge six months later.
BitMEX itself paid a $100 million fine for failing to observe financial regulatory obligations, but the individuals involved have all pleaded not guilty to their crimes, with their cases set to be heard in 2022. Jail time could well await those who are found guilty, which makes the case a very interesting one to watch next year.