Manhattan DA: We’re Watching Regulated Exchanges With ‘Immense Interest’

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Cy Vance, DACy Vance, DA

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr has indicated that his department intends to watch developments in the bitcoin exchange sector with “immense interest”.

The remarks came during Vance’s keynote address at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists' (ACAMS) AML Risk Management Conference on Monday, and coincided with the news that the DA’s office had shut down more than 70 bitcoin scam sites originating in Southeast Asia.

A long-time advocate for more stringent regulations in the bitcoin space, Vance used his platform to decry the technology as one that makes criminal conduct “too easy and too untraceable”.

Perhaps most notably, however, his speech included veiled remarks seemingly aimed at bitcoin service provider Coinbase, which launched its exchange product on Monday.

Vance said:

“You may have seen news recently about an effort to ‘take bitcoin mainstream’ by creating the first regulated bitcoin exchange for American customers. We are watching efforts like these with intense interest.”

Boon for law enforcement

Vance went on to say that regulated exchanges would be beneficial for law enforcement, should these companies support its efforts.

“We believe a regulated exchange would provide opportunities for law enforcement and AML professionals to work together to discuss typologies, examine cash-ins and cash-outs, and keep our world safer from terror and financial crime,” he said.

Since Monday, Coinbase has clarified that it believes New York to be in a legal "gray zone" that allows it to service customers.

The high-profile launch of its latest service, widely billed in the media as the ‘first regulated bitcoin exchange’ in the US, has also attracted the attention of the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO), the state’s financial services regulator.

The DBO moved to deny perceived claims made by Coinbase that its product is regulated in its jurisdiction.

Image via The New York County District Attorney's Office