Former SEC Chief Criticizes Coinbase’s SEC Defense as “Criminal”

In this post:

  • Former SEC Chief John Reed Stark criticizes exchange’s defense, stating that claiming SEC approval of its IPO does not absolve the exchange from charges.
  • The SEC’s role in IPO approval is to review disclosures, and a disclaimer is issued to recuse the commission from claims similar to those Coinbase plans to use in its defense.

John Reed Stark, former Chief of the SEC Office of Internet Enforcement, has raised serious concerns regarding the key defense put forth by Coinbase Global Inc., the American publicly traded exchange, in response to charges brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Stark argues that Coinbase’s assertion that the SEC approved its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2021, implying a comprehensive knowledge of its business, is fundamentally flawed. 

As a former regulatory chief, Stark emphasizes that the SEC’s role in IPO filings is primarily to review the accuracy of disclosures made by the applying company. He points out that the SEC includes a strong disclaimer in each prospectus, explicitly distancing itself from any claims the exchange plans to use as part of its defense.

SEC’s Limited Role in IPO Approvals

Stark challenges Coinbase’s defense strategy by shedding light on the true nature of the SEC’s involvement in the IPO approval process. Contrary to Coinbase’s claims, the SEC’s primary responsibility is not to endorse or fully comprehend the inner workings of a company, but rather to ensure that the company’s disclosures are accurate and complete. This oversight is crucial for investors to make informed decisions. Stark emphasizes that the SEC consistently includes a disclaimer in prospectuses, explicitly stating that it has not approved or disapproved the securities, nor has it verified the veracity of the prospectus. 

By quoting a sample statement, Stark highlights the SEC’s legal recusal of any claims similar to those Coinbase intends to use as part of its defense. Ultimately, Stark argues that Platform’s attempt to present the SEC’s approval of its IPO as a shield against charges will likely prove ineffective.

Coinbase Faces Legal Challenges on Multiple Fronts

Coinbase, the popular cryptocurrency exchange, finds itself entangled in a complex legal battle with the SEC, with two significant lawsuits currently pending. The first lawsuit involves Coinbase suing the Gary Gensler-led commission for its failure to provide clear regulatory guidance, despite repeated requests from the exchange. Coinbase argues that the lack of clarity stifles innovation and creates uncertainty in the cryptocurrency market. 

However, this lawsuit serves as a secondary concern compared to the more critical lawsuit that accuses Coinbase of facilitating the trading of unregistered crypto securities such as Cardano (ADA), Solana (SOL), Filecoin (FIL), Polygon (MATIC), among others.

A Challenging Legal Journey for Coinbase

Coinbase faces an arduous legal journey ahead, as it navigates its way through the two lawsuits filed against it by the SEC. Drawing a parallel with the ongoing legal battle between Ripple Labs and the market regulators, it becomes evident that the road ahead for Coinbase is likely to be a long and complex one. The outcome of this legal dispute will significantly impact the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency exchanges and could set important precedents regarding the trading of digital assets within the United States.


Former SEC Chief John Reed Stark has criticized Coinbase’s defense strategy against the SEC charges, asserting that their claim of SEC approval during the IPO is flawed. Stark highlights the limited role of the SEC in approving IPOs and emphasizes the standard disclaimer issued by the SEC in prospectuses, disassociating the commission from any claims similar to those platform plans to use in its defense. As Coinbase faces a protracted legal battle on two fronts, the outcome of these lawsuits will have far-reaching implications for both the exchange and the broader cryptocurrency industry.

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 decisions.

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