The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has initiated enforcement actions against three decentralized finance companies and signaled that more may be to come.
The CFTC alleged Thursday that Opyn Inc., ZeroEx Inc. and Deridex Inc. violated the agency’s rules by illegally allowing U.S. customers to trade digital asset derivatives without registering. The regulator ordered the companies to stop violating CFTC rules and required them to pay civil penalties of $250,000, $200,000 and $100,000, respectively.
None of the three companies admitted or denied the regulator’s allegations as part of their agreements. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The US government is increasingly setting its sights on decentralized finance, or DeFi as the industry calls it. The platforms allow users to trade, borrow and lend digital assets without going through an intermediary. Over the past few months, agencies have issued rules, imposed sanctions, and taken enforcement actions to warn DeFi players.
“At some point, DeFi operators came up with the idea that illegal transactions become legal when facilitated by smart contracts,” Ian McGinley, CFTC director of enforcement, said in a statement. “They don’t.”
The CFTC recently won a victory against a decentralized autonomous organization called Ooki DAO that it said operated an illegal trading platform and violated other agencies’ rules. In June, a federal judge ordered the company to shut down and pay a fine of more than $600,000.
Not all CFTC members supported the agency’s action Thursday. Summer Mersinger, a Republican commissioner, issued a dissenting statement, saying the regulator should first focus on providing clear rules for DeFi rather than enforcing them, particularly when it comes to platforms that have not committed fraud or harmed their users.
“I fear that the commission in these cases is taking a step closer to coercive measures when we should be interacting with the public,” she said.
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