Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) has issued a warning to the four founders of OPNX Exchange and CEO Leslie Lamb, accusing them of operating an unlicensed and unregulated cryptocurrency exchange. The founders named in the warning include Mark Lamb, Sudhu Arumugam, and Su Zhu and Kyle Davies, who were founders of failed crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital.
The Cease and Desist Order
The VARA had first issued a cease and desist order to OPNX Exchange on February 27, to prevent its establishment and marketing. Subsequently, the authorities found that the exchange was restricted to UAE residents, but the marketing and promotion material remained accessible to the residents. Despite issuing a second cease and desist letter on March 10, the exchange was launched on April 4. VARA then issued an Investor and Marketplace Alert on April 12, warning investors that the exchange was unregulated.
The Company’s Response
OPNX Exchange CEO Leslie Lamb has denied any wrongdoing and stated that the company has not undertaken any marketing or promotion targeting Dubai or the UAE, and therefore, has not violated any laws. Su Zhu also stated that he and Kyle Davies were not involved in the day-to-day running of the exchange, although they contributed to the initial ideas for the exchange.
VARA has warned that it is continuing to monitor the situation and investigate OPNX’s activity to assess further corrective measures that may be required to protect the market. This move is part of Dubai’s efforts to balance its ambitions of becoming an industry hub with stricter regulations on cryptocurrencies.