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Robinhood Crypto Unit Fined $30M by New York Regulator

The New York State Department of Financial Services alleges Robinhood lacked sufficient staff and resources to ensure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering rules. 

(Bloomberg) -- Robinhood Markets Inc.’s cryptocurrency arm was fined $30 million by New York’s financial regulator after the brokerage was accused of violating anti-money-laundering and cybersecurity rules. 

The unit must enlist an independent consultant to monitor compliance, according to an order filed Tuesday. The firm disclosed last year that it expected to pay the penalty.

The enforcement action by the New York State Department of Financial Services underscores the continued regulatory scrutiny Robinhood faces, even as it pushes a message to investors that it’s taking a “safety first” stance toward digital tokens. 

Robinhood took a faulty approach to crypto trading compliance at a time of rapid growth for the Menlo Park, California-based company, according to the regulator, which alleged that the brokerage lacked sufficient staff and resources to ensure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering rules. 

The firm had used a manual system to review transactions, which the financial watchdog called “unacceptable” for a business averaging more than 100,000 transactions a day totaling $5.3 million in September 2019. Automated transaction monitoring is a safeguard against money laundering that would be typical for a company of its size, the regulator said. 

Robinhood, which is set to report second-quarter results Wednesday, didn’t have such automated review systems in place when the investigation began, and it took the company months to transition to one.

Shares of Robinhood were little changed, trading for $9.03 apiece at 10:19 a.m. in New York. The stock has dropped 49% this year.

--With assistance from Alex Nguyen.

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