Abra settles with US states, will repay $82 million to affected customers

The collective entities known as “Abra” and CEO William “Bill” Barhydt have reached a settlement with 25 US state regulators for offering crypto trading services without securing appropriate licenses, according to the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) June 26 press release.

As part of the settlement, the 25 state regulators agreed to forgo monetary penalties of $250,000 per jurisdiction to facilitate $82 million in customer repayments.

Additionally, Abra agreed to stop accepting crypto allocations from US customers as of June 15, 2023, and refund US customer balances.

The settlement also bars Barhydt from participating in money services businesses that are licensed or required to obtain licensing in any states that took part in the settlement. However, he may remain involved as a passive investor for five years. Barhydt is Abra’s largest equity owner.

Washington leads with consent order

Washington was the first state to publish its consent order on June 26. The order indicates that 706 users in the state have a balance of $116,000.78 remaining on the platform.

Washington noted that customers have received $13.6 million to date.

The CSBS highlighted Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont’s role in the settlement and listed 18 others, including Washington, that participated in the settlement.

According to the release, the other states will issue their consent orders in the coming weeks or months and more states may join the settlement as the case closes.

Abra wind-down

Abra began to wind down its US operations in June 2023, stating that it would stop accepting US app users and discontinue various US consumer services.

The company said its operations outside the US were unaffected. Current statements to Reuters indicate that the firm’s institutional service, Abra Capital Management, continues to operate in the US and is registered with the SEC.

Abra’s US wind down coincided with state securities regulators informing state money services business (MSB) regulators of Abra’s activities in June 2023, leading to a parallel pursuit of settlements.

The Texas State Securities Board filed an emergency cease and desist order against Abra regarding its interest-bearing products in mid-2023, culminating in a January settlement. New Mexico’s securities regulator also settled with Abra in April.

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