CFTC Charges Digitex Founder Adam Todd With Multiple Violations of Commodity Exchange Act

Adam Todd, the founder of crypto futures and spot market exchange Digitex, has been charged by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for multiple violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).

According to a complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida on Friday, Todd is accused of using various corporate entities – including Digitex LLC, Digitex Limited, Digitex Software Limited and Blockster Holdings Limited Corporation – to run an illegal crypto derivatives trading platform.

The CFTC’s enforcement action against Todd is one in a recent string of crypto-related lawsuits brought by the agency, which appears to be cracking down on lawbreakers in the digital industry.

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Mike Selig, a crypto attorney at white-shoe law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, said that while the CFTC’s action against Todd and Digitex is the regulator’s first against a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform for failing to register as an exchange, it’s not a surprise to anyone paying attention to what the regulator has been saying about DeFi platforms.

“Former CFTC Commissioner Dan Berkovitz foreshadowed this action in a June 2021 speech where he stated that ‘[n]ot only do I think that unlicensed DeFi markets for derivative instruments are a bad idea, I also do not see how they are legal under the CEA.’,” Selig said. “The Digitex action demonstrates that the CFTC is focused on both intermediaries that offer margin and financing to retail cryptoasset traders as well as the platforms.”

Because Todd and the Digitex platforms were never registered with the CFTC as futures commission merchants, the operation was a violation of the CEA, according to the complaint. Todd and the entities are further accused of failing to implement proper know-your-customer (KYC) practices as required by the Bank Secrecy Act – a violation that can land rulebreakers in prison for up to five years.

Todd is also accused by the CFTC of attempting to manipulate Digitex’s native token, DGTX, using non-economic trading to “pump” its price higher.

The CFTC is seeking civil monetary penalties, disgorgement, restitution, and trading and registration bans against Todd and the Digitex-related entities.