VARA said OPNX solicited Dubai customers through marketing campaigns and social media without the appropriate regulatory approval.
Dubai’s regulator said they were assessing whether further action might be needed against the latest crypto venture from Su Zhu and Kyle Davies.
OPNX CEO Leslie Lamb rebutted that the exchange isn’t available to Dubai residents.
At the same time, Zhu and Kyle claim no influence over the platform’s operations after contributing the initial ideas for OPNX.
Crypto claims trading exchange OPNX must navigate more controversy after its lackluster launch in early April this year.
The Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) lambasted the crypto venture started by Su Zhu and Kyle Davies for marketing an unregistered digital asset business to Dubai residents and customers, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
OPNX is a crypto exchange that allows users to trade claims from defunct entities like FTX and Three Arrows Capital, the very same bankrupt hedge fund previously led by Zhu and Davies. The platform hosts executives from other troubled crypto businesses like CoinFLEX’s Mark Lamb and Sudhu Arumugam. Leslie Lamb currently spearheads the venture as CEO.
On February 27, Dubai’s VARA issued a “cease and desist” order to OPNX. A second cautionary notice was published shortly after on March 10 to both the founder and the crypto platform itself.
The platform later launched in April, recording unimpressive trading volumes at launch, and continued to leverage social media for marketing campaigns. VARA claims this move was also targeted at onboarding Dubai users.
Following its first two notices to OPNX and its founders before the platform launched, VARA published a written reprimand to all four co-founders for attempting to run an unregistered crypto business in the Emirates.
The notice echoed regulatory concerns cited in February, and March, and an “Investor and Marketplace Alert” published about OPNX shortly before the exchange launched in April.
OPNX CEO Leslie Lamb, another subject of VARA’s regulatory torch, rebutted the claims and said the company had not violated any of the Emirati’s policies. OPNX and VARA are working together to investigate the matter, CEO Lamb suggested in a WhatsApp text cited in Tuesday’s report.
3AC co-founder Su Zhu also claimed that he and Kyle were not involved in daily administrative duties at OPNX despite ideating the original concept for the crypto claims exchange.
CEO Lamb also said that “at no point in time have UAE customers been able to open an account on OPNX”.
Dubai’s Burgeoning Crypto-Hub Plans
VARA’s regulatory move against OPNX comes as Dubai works to develop its jurisdiction as a global hub for crypto innovation and digital asset businesses. Several crypto businesses like Binance and Kraken have received regulatory nods from UAE watchdogs.
Apart from publishing a licensing regime through its crypto watchdog VARA, the Emirate state has also reportedly made joint efforts with other members of the UAE to exit the FATF’s “gray list”.
The Financial Action Task Force maintains a list of jurisdictions that supposedly need to beef up measures that combat money laundering and illicit wealth.