Ooki DAO to shut down after ‘precedent setting’ court battle with CFTC

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A United States district judge has entered a default judgment order requiring Ooki DAO to permanently shut down and pay a civil monetary penalty of $643,542.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) initially filed a lawsuit against Ooki DAO in September 2022, accusing the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) of illegally offering retail margin and leverage trading services, and “unlawfully acting” as a futures commission merchant.

A default judgment had been on the cards for months after Ooki DAO missed the January 2023 deadline to respond to the lawsuit.

With the order now official as of June 9, the CFTC released a statement the same day describing the lawsuit as a “sweeping victory” and outlining the full scope of the default judgment.

Ooki DAO has received “permanent trading and registration bans;” it has been ordered to shut down the Ooki DAO website and “remove its content from the Internet,” the commission stated, adding:

“Critically, in a precedent-setting decision, the court held that the Ooki DAO is a ‘person’ under the Commodity Exchange Act and thus can be held liable for violations of the law. The court then held that the Ooki DAO did, in fact, violate the law as charged.”

This case against Ooki DAO was unique, marking one of the first times a government agency had gone after a DAO and its tokenholders.

Before this case, the prevailing belief held by industry players was that DAOs and decentralized finance platforms were mostly protected from regulatory scrutiny due to their decentralized nature.

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A key issue, however, is that the CFTC alleged that Tom Bean and Kyle Kistner, the founders of Ooki DAO’s predecessor bZeroX, had intentionally attempted to hand over ownership of their noncompliant trading platform to the Ooki DAO to avoid any potential legal pushback.

“The founders created the Ooki DAO with an evasive purpose, and with the explicit goal of operating an illegal trading platform without legal accountability,” noted CFTC division of enforcement director Ian McGinley, adding:

“This decision should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who believes they can circumvent the law by adopting a DAO structure, intending to insulate themselves from law enforcement and ultimately putting the public at risk.”

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