The United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission has emerged as a top cryptocurrency regulator, bringing 75 enforcement actions and 19 trading suspension orders between July 2013 and 2020, according to a study by Cornerstone Research.
“In the last seven years or so, the SEC has established itself as one of the main regulators policing the cryptocurrency space,” said Simona Mola, the report’s author, and a senior manager at Cornerstone Research. “As of early March this year, the SEC has settled over 70 percent of the enforcement actions for more than US$1.77 billion in total monetary penalties.”
Among the defendants and respondents included in the SEC cryptocurrency enforcement report were crypto issuers, brokers, exchanges and other service providers. Among the 75 enforcement actions, 43 were litigated in U.S. district courts and 32 were resolved within the SEC as administrative proceedings.
The most common allegations over the study period involved claims of fraud (52 percent) and unregistered securities offerings (69 percent). Twenty-eight actions (37 percent) involved allegations of both fraud and unregistered securities offerings.
“[Initial coin offerings] have been a frequent target of SEC enforcement actions, but this may be changing as issuers explore other potential funding sources,” said Abe Chernin, a Cornerstone Research vice president and head of the firm’s consumer finance practice. “While the SEC will continue to focus on fraud, there is an increasing expectation that the new administration develops a clearer regulatory approach and pursue greater interagency coordination to foster innovation in cryptocurrency markets.”
In a legal filing last week, the SEC asked Southern District of New York Judge Sarah Netburn to compel Ripple to produce documents regarding legal advice it received on whether “Ripple’s offers and sales of XRP were or would be subject to, and in compliance with, the federal securities laws.”