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CFTC Demands Trading Data from Bitcoin Exchanges; A Question of Custody and Digital Assets

CFTC investigators have asked four bitcoin exchanges for trading data as the agency probes whether manipulation is distorting prices in the cryptocurrency markets, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bitcoin prices fell to a two-month low upon news of the investigation, the Financial Times reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, CME, which launched bitcoin futures contracts around six months ago, requested the trading data, but the exchanges refused to comply and later only provided some of the data requested. According to the report, the CFTC was upset that CME did not have agreements to compel the exchanges to provide the trading data and the agency subpoenaed the exchanges. Meanwhile, an article from FinOps details the custody issues under the Investment Advisers Act that regulators and compliance professionals are grappling with as digital assets continue to make their mark on the financial markets. The SEC has repeatedly urged the industry to be cautious about digital assets and has asked questions but not issued definitive guidance about custody issues. According to research cited in the FinOps article, there are an estimated 220 crypto-focused hedge funds that manage at least $3.5 billion in assets, but because many of the funds oversee less than $150 million in assets, they are not required to register with the SEC although they are subject to state regulation.