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Crypto Firm Abra Settles States’ Charges of Operating Without Licenses

Cryptocurrency firm Abra and its CEO and largest equity owner Bill Barhydt have reached a settlement with 25 state regulators.

The settlement follows the states’ finding that Abra and Barhydt operated a mobile app for buying, selling, trading and investing in crypto without receiving the required state licenses, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) said in a Wednesday (June 26) press release.

In the settlement, Abra agreed to stop accepting virtual asset allocations from U.S. Abra Trade Account customers into their products and services; agreed to stop making, buying, selling or trading cryptocurrencies available to U.S. Abra Trade customers as of June 15, 2023; and agreed to refund any remaining virtual assets on its platform for U.S. Abra Trade customers in the settling states, according to the release.

In addition, Barhydt agreed to not participate in any money transmitter or money services business in the settling states for five years, per the release.

The states participating in the settlement agreed to forego a monetary penalty, the release said.

“State financial regulators take their role to protect consumers and prevent unlicensed activity seriously,” Charlie Clark, chair of CSBS and director of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, said in the release. “Companies that do not operate within the bounds of state laws will be held accountable.”

An Abra spokesperson told Reuters, per a report posted Wednesday: “Abra is pleased to enter into a Term Sheet negotiated with a working group from the Money Transmitters Regulators Association regarding the Abra App that Abra previously offered in the U.S.”

Barhydt told Reuters that the company is “pleased that the state negotiations are behind us,” according to the report.

Abra told its users in a July 2023 blog post that it was winding down its Abra Trade, Earn and Borrow offerings in the U.S. at that time, while users outside the country would remain unaffected.

“Given the current regulatory uncertainty facing crypto and digital asset service providers in the United States, Abra has made the difficult decision to focus our retail efforts outside the USA for the time being,” the company said in the post.