New York regulators slap Robinhood's crypto business with $30 million fine

Robinhood allegedly violated New York's bank secrecy and anti-money laundering regulations.

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In the latest in what seems to be a string of challenges the company has to grapple with, Robinhood's crypto division has been slapped with a $30 million fine by the New York State Department of Financial Services. It's the first crypto-focused enforcement action by the regulator, which has issued the multimillion dollar penalty against Robinhood for what it says are violations against the state's anti-money laundering and cybersecurity regulations. In its announcement, the Financial Services Department said it found significant deficiencies in the company's compliance programs following a supervisory examination.

Apparently, there weren't enough people working in Robinhood's money laundering compliance program. The company also failed to transition from a manual monitoring system, which is no longer sufficient now that it's much larger than when it started. In addition, the department found that policies within Robinhood's cybersecurity program aren't in full compliance with official cybersecurity and virtual currency regulations.

The New York regulator also mentioned that Robinhood improperly certified compliance with the Department's Transaction Monitoring Regulation and Cybersecurity Regulation. Since it wasn't fully compliant with the state's cybersecurity rules, Robinhood violated the law by claiming compliance. Finally, the regulator said Robinhood failed to adhere to consumer protection requirements by not maintaining a separate phone number (and displaying it on its website) specifically for consumer complaints.

Superintendent of Financial Services, Adrienne A. Harris, said in a statement:

"As its business grew, Robinhood Crypto failed to invest the proper resources and attention to develop and maintain a culture of compliance—a failure that resulted in significant violations of the Department’s anti-money laundering and cybersecurity regulations. All virtual currency companies licensed in New York State are subject to the same anti-money laundering, consumer protection, and cybersecurity regulations as traditional financial services companies. DFS will continue to investigate and take action when any licensee violates the law or the Department’s regulations, which are critical to protecting consumers and ensuring the safety and soundness of the institutions."

Aside from having to pay $30 million, Robinhood must retain an independent consultant who will evaluate if it has taken the appropriate actions to address its violations and deficiencies under the settlement.

Robinhood also recently announced that it's laying off 23 percent of its workforce due to record inflation and the cryptocurrency crash. It's the company's second round of job cuts this year and will affect employees across divisions. That revelation came after Robinhood published its earnings for the second quarter of 2022, wherein it posted a net loss of $295 million and announced a decrease of 1.9 million in monthly active users.

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