According to early media reports, Chinese police are talking to the major holders of Malta-based crypto exchange OKEx. As a result of this the exchange has suspended all withdrawals, and Bitcoin prices appear to be reacting negatively to the news. Although the exchange is based in Malta, it was founded in China, and still serves many Chinese crypto investors. Cryptocurrencies are illegal in China, which means that many of the clients at OKEx are likely in violation of local laws.
The CEO of the company commented on the situation,
“Please be assured that the company, operation, and business are not impacted. It’s a matter of a private key holder’s personal issue, which is why we suspended withdrawal.”
Why it matters: Centralized exchanges like OKEx control an outsized amount of Bitcoin, as the exchanges require their clients to deposit funds with the exchange so they can trade. As such, the major exchanges are substantial sources of market liquidity, which may be why Bitcoin prices are dropping on the news of OXEx suspending withdrawals. From a wider perspective, the move by Chinese police against the owners of the exchange may signal a wider crackdown on cryptos in China, and given the launch of China's first CBDC programs, we may see a much stricter stance on decentralized tokens in the Middle Kingdom as 2020 comes to a close.