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Crypto exchanges face SEC lawsuits over securities law violations

In this post:

  • Since the break of Covid-19, the United States SEC under Gary Gensler has made it a mission to crack decentralized finance.
  • So far, the regulator has gone after major crypto entities with operational jurisdictions such as Kraken, Coinbase, and Binance.US.
  • What guidelines has the US regulator given to crypto entities to register securities?

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed lawsuits against major crypto exchanges Coinbase and Binance, alleging that they have used deceptive business practices and broken securities laws. The US authorities are intensifying their efforts to regulate the crypto sector, which will have an impact on key actors and raise concerns about investor protection and regulatory oversight.

SEC’s regulatory crackdown on the crypto industry

The United States economic regulatory arm filed a lawsuit against Coinbase on June 6 in federal court in Manhattan. The regulatory entity alleged that the crypto exchange in the US was operating in violation of the law by avoiding disclosure obligations.

The regulation body said that Coinbase allows users to trade at least 13 digital assets that should have been registered as securities, including the tokens Solana, Cardano, and Polygon.

According to a Reuters report, the regulator wants a judge to require Coinbase to abide by US securities law in addition to seeking monetary fines. The United States has spearheaded a regulatory crackdown while others, including the European Union, have begun to draft regulations for the cryptocurrency business.

In the last ten years, the regulatory commission has filed more than a hundred enforcement cases, alleging that multiple cryptocurrencies constitute securities.

According to the regulator’s complaint, Coinbase has illegally profited by facilitating purchasing and selling securities backed by digital assets since at least 2019.  Coinbase provides the traditional services of an exchange, broker, and clearing agency without registering any of those operations with the Commission as is required by law. 

Consequently, on June 5, the regulator also filed a lawsuit against Binance, alleging that it had engaged in an elaborate scheme to evade U.S. federal securities laws. Any securities listed on Coinbase have been refused. Binance has criticized the situation and stated that it intends to refute the allegations.

What constitutes a security in the US?

Coinbase and other market participants have been clear that the majority of cryptocurrencies, which run on a blockchain, a shared database used by a network of computers, do not fall under the definition of securities under U.S. law.

The regulator has used a 1946 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in support of their claim that crypto assets are securities. The W. J. Howey Co.’s Florida orange groves were owned by investors in the case. According to the court, an investment contract is a type of security defined as an investment of money in a common enterprise with profits to come solely from the efforts of others.

The court ruled that the regulator had the authority to try and stop Howey from selling fractional land interests to investors from outside the state with a promise to share in the harvest’s profits.

Why is crypto asset deemed secure?

Several lawsuits involving crypto and the SEC have resulted in settlements where corporations have paid fines and agreed to abide by American law. This has occasionally required leaving the American market or terminating a coin project.

Judges have concurred with the regulator that particular crypto assets are securities in the few situations where this has been decided in court.

According to those decisions, statements made by developers linking the value of their digital assets to work done to expand or maintain the corresponding blockchain systems demonstrated that investor gains were dependent on the “efforts of others.”

Additionally, courts have found that buyers of those assets engaged in a “common enterprise” since the money they spent was pooled by the token issuer and applied to the creation of pertinent infrastructure.

Why is Binance facing charges?

Zhao formed the Cayman Islands-based limited liability business Binance, and the allegations against it are similar to those made against FTX, a crypto exchange, which failed last year.

The lawsuit makes clear that the owners were aware of the alleged legal infractions due to a telling declaration from Binance’s CCO, who revealed that the company was operating as an unregistered securities exchange in the USA in December 2018.

According to the regulator’s complaint, Coinbase has illegally profited by facilitating purchasing and selling securities backed by digital assets since at least 2019. The Commission claims that Coinbase combines the conventional services of an exchange, broker, and clearing agency without registering any of those activities with the Commission as is required by law.  

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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