John McAfee, founder of cybersecurity software company McAfee, has been indicted on multiple charges stemming from two purported schemes relating to the allegedly fraudulent promotion of cryptocurrencies. Jimmy Watson, who served as an executive adviser on McAfee’s “cryptocurrency team,” was also charged in the indictment.
According to the allegations in the complaint, which was unsealed in Manhattan federal court, the first of the two schemes involved a fraudulent practice called “scalping,” also known as a “pump-and-dump” scheme. As part of the alleged scheme, McAfee, Watson, and other associates allegedly bought large quantities of publicly traded cryptocurrency altcoins at low market prices, knowing that McAfee planned to publicly endorse them on his Twitter account, which had approximately 784,000 followers.
Robinhood (RH) is a broker. They don’t execute stock orders themselves. They sign up customers, route their orders to executing brokers, and keep track of who owns what. RH is also its own clearing broker, so they directly settle and custody their clients’ securities.
Yes, RH is paid by Citadel to handle executing some of its order flow. This isn’t as nefarious as it sounds – Citadel Equity Securities is paying to execute retail orders because they aren’t pernicious (like having 500x the size behind them).
RH offered to open up stock market investing more broadly. They succeeded, clearly. But the regulations didn’t change – there are still pro-Wall St, pro-incumbent rules and capital requirements. It’s one of the most highly regulated industries in our nation.
So @AOC is right to ask how it can be that Robinhood stopped its clients from buying certain securities. And what she’ll find is that the reason is that Dodd-Frank requires brokers like RH to post collateral to cover their clients’ trading risk pre-settlement.