U.S. SEC Says More Crypto Companies Will Face Charges Soon

The U.S securities and exchange commission (SEC) says it will extend its crypto hunt to more crypto firms soon. Head of the agency’s Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit, David Hirsch said this on Tuesday at the Securities Enforcement Forum Central in Chicago.

Hirsch said the agency isn’t done going after  crypto exchanges and decentralized finance (DeFi) projects it considers to be violating securities laws, similar to the case of Coinbase and Binance.

He further stated that his office is aware of and is investigating other firms that seem to be going the way of the two top crypto exchanges, adding that the industry’s compliance breeches “hold true well beyond any two entities.”  

“We’re going to continue to be active as intermediaries,” he said. “That can be brokers, dealers, exchanges, clearing agencies or any others who are active in this space, are within our jurisdiction and not meeting their obligations, either through registration or failure to provide adequate or complete disclosures.”

Binance and Coinbase are two of the biggest crypto exchanges in the world. The two were targeted by the SEC and sued in June on allegations of violations of securities laws. The agency alleged that the two exchanges were trading in securities, and that they failed to register as securities exchanges.

The case has lingered to this moment with no significant progress made, as both Coinbase and Binance have denied the allegations. Meanwhile, the agency has sought to investigate Binance.US in a hearing this week but was denied the request.

DeFi Not Left Out

One booming part of crypto is the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem which took the industry by storm in 2020. While DeFi isn’t as tangible and easily traceable as centralized exchanges like Binance and Coinbase, Hirsch said it will not be left out.

“We’re going to continue to conduct investigations, we’re gonna be active in the space, and adding the label of DeFi is not going to be something that’s going to deter us from continuing our work,” he said.

Despite repeated condemnation of the SEC’s enforcement approach to regulating crypto companies, the agency has continued to pursue the same course in trying to bring crypto firms into compliance with securities laws.

Through its chair Garry Gensler, the agency has repeatedly said that crypto and crypto firms fall under its jurisdiction since it considers most crypto assets to be securities.

This is despite the lack of regulation for the crypto industry in the country, something Coinbase has brought up many times. The exchange had earlier filed a motion in court demanding the agency bring clear regulatory guidance to the industry.

SEC at Capacity

Because of the aggressiveness with which the SEC has been pursuing enforcement in the crypto industry, the agency has several cases in court, some even involving NFT companies for selling unregistered NFT securities.

Since its budget for such litigations is limited, Hirsch said the agency can only go so far with litigations at this time.

“There are more tokens extant — I think maybe 20,000, 25,000, last I read — than the SEC or any agency has the resources to pursue directly, and similarly there are a number of centralized platforms out there, some that are acting as unregistered exchanges,” he said.

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