Bittrex Files for Bankruptcy After Ending US Operations

Fined More Than $50 Million Last Year, Bittrex Has Also Been Sued by the SEC

In this photo illustration, a visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is displayed in front of the Bitcoin course's graph of Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange website on February 6, 2018.

Chesnot / Getty Images

Bittrex filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a month after saying it would shutter its U.S. operations, becoming the latest victim of crypto winter.

Key Takeaways

  • Bittrex Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection about a month after saying it would close its U.S. exchange.
  • The bankruptcy filing won't affect Bittrex's non-U.S. operations.
  • Customers who didn't yank funds before April 30 may still be refunded.

The Seattle-based firm filed its petition in a Delaware Court, saying assets and liabilities are both estimated to be between $500 million and $1 billion.

Bittrex said in late March it was shutting down its operations in the U.S., blaming “regulatory uncertainty.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued the exchange in mid-April, saying the company and former CEO Bill Shihara operated a securities exchange, brokerage, and clearing agency without registration. The lawsuit also said Bittrex and its then-CEO asked issuers of tokens to adjust their release statements to remove anything that would suggest they were securities. 

The suit came after the U.S. Treasury Department fined Bittrex $53 million for money-laundering violations. Bittrex listed Treasury in the bankruptcy petition as the company’s largest creditor at $24 million.

The firm had struggled to keep up with competitors like FTX and Coinbase, which outspent Bittrex on marketing and offered high-yield products to attract new customers. Between 2017 and 2022, Bittrex's annual revenue dropped 97% to $17 million.

What's Next?

Before ending its U.S. business, Bittrex had 600,000 active users in the U.S. and an additional 600,000 unfunded customer accounts. Customers were urged to withdraw their funds before the April 30 deadline. According to the bankruptcy filing, there are 16 Bittrex U.S. customers with at least $1 million still sitting in their accounts, with the largest depositor holding $14.6 million in assets.

"For those customers who did not withdraw their funds from the platform prior to the end of April, your funds remain safe and secure, and our main priority is to ensure that our customers are made whole," the company said in a statement.

Bittrex has about 1.5 million active users globally and will continue to operate outside the U.S.

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  1. Court Listener. "Bittrex Chapter 11 - 189880.11.0."

  2. Business Wire. "Bittrex Inc. Statement on Chapter 11".

  3. U.S. Department of the Treasury. "Treasury Announces Two Enforcement Actions for over $24M and $29M Against Virtual Currency Exchange Bittrex, Inc."

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