SEC won’t give ‘crypto a pass,’ agency’s enforcement chief says

SEC enforcement unit director Gurbir Grewal non-enforcement would be “betrayal of trust.”

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is not about to get off track with regard to taking legal action against crypto companies that break the securities laws, the agency’s enforcement chief warned on Friday. 

Gurbir Grewal, the Enforcement Director at the SEC was speaking at a conference in Washington D.C.

SEC to continue crack down – Grewal

The crypto industry has over the past few years been unhappy with the US securities watchdog, particularly around what’s seen as the regulator’s pivot to regulation by enforcement. It’s an outlook many say stifles innovation.

But that isn’t going to stop the SEC from taking an aggressive approach towards enforcing rules it says apply to crypto companies, Grewal said at the event organised by the Practising Law Institute. 

He warned that the agency will not give “crypto a pass,” adding that the regulator will pursue action against those who break the law irrespective of the technology used. According to the SEC enforcement boss, taking a different approach – in this case non-enforcement of rules underpinning the regulatory ecosystem – would be akin to “betrayal of trust.”

The SEC is determined to take the enforcement route despite misgivings within the crypto space, with the unit eyeing 125 new staff to boost its efficiency.

Grewal’s comments come a day after SEC Chair Gary Gensler noted that the agency was keen on more crypto companies, particularly crypto brokers and exchanges, getting registered. Gensler has reiterated this before, saying the SEC has the regulatory authority to take enforcement actions against securities.

In December 2020, the SEC brought a lawsuit against Ripple Labs for what it maintains is the crypto company’s sale of unregistered securities.

There are multiple other crypto-related cases the agency has filed. Recently, the regulator charged a former Coinbase staff with insider trading and listed nine tokens it said were securities (seven of these were on Coinbase).

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