SEC commissioner criticizes agency’s approach to crypto regulation


  • SEC Commissioner Peirce criticizes the agency for lack of transparency in crypto regulation, citing the “secret garden” approach.
  • Peirce highlights concerns about critical guidance like SAB 121 affecting financial reporting for crypto firms.
  • Calls for clearer, more inclusive regulatory processes in response to the growing demand for transparency in the crypto industry.

At the recent SEC Speaks event in Washington, D.C., Commissioner Hester Peirce delivered a scathing critique of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) approach to regulating the cryptocurrency industry. Peirce, known for her advocacy for the crypto sector, shed light on what she described as the SEC’s “secret garden” of unpublicized regulatory guidance.

Lack of transparency raises concerns

Peirce’s speech, titled “At the SEC: Nothing but Crickets,” highlighted the opaque nature of the SEC’s rulemaking process, particularly regarding crypto regulation. She pointed out that crucial regulatory guidance often surfaces through unofficial channels such as staff statements, speeches, and private communications with select legal and auditing professionals.

According to Peirce, this clandestine approach leaves industry players precarious. While the guidance is not considered final agency action, compliance is necessary to avoid potential delays, denials, and scrutiny from SEC enforcement and examination teams. Peirce emphasized that this creates a situation where entities silently comply without the ability to challenge the directives.

One of the focal points of Peirce’s criticism was the SEC’s Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB) 121, which mandates public companies holding clients’ cryptocurrencies to report these assets and corresponding liabilities on their balance sheets. Peirce argued that the development of this directive lacked the involvement of the full Commission and neglected significant public consultation.

Peirce highlighted the potential adverse effects of SAB 121, stating that it could complicate financial reporting for crypto firms and increase their capital requirements. She emphasized that such significant guidance, which could have broad implications for the market, should undergo a more inclusive and transparent process.

Demands for clarity and transparency

Peirce’s remarks underscore a broader demand within the crypto industry for clarity and transparency in regulatory processes. The criticism of the SEC’s “secret garden” approach reflects concerns about the impact of opaque rulemaking on innovation and market participants.

The call for more transparent and participatory regulatory processes aligns with efforts to foster innovation while ensuring investor protection. Peirce’s advocacy for openness in regulatory decision-making resonates with stakeholders seeking clear guidelines to navigate the evolving landscape of crypto regulation.

In response to Peirce’s critique, the SEC may face increased pressure to reassess its approach to crypto regulation and prioritize transparency in its rulemaking processes. As the crypto industry continues to expand and attract mainstream attention, regulatory agencies must balance fostering innovation and safeguarding investors’ interests.

Commissioner Hester Peirce’s recent criticism of the SEC’s approach to regulating the crypto industry has brought attention to the agency’s opaque rulemaking processes. Peirce’s remarks highlight concerns about the lack of transparency and inclusivity in developing regulatory guidance, particularly regarding critical issues such as the reporting of cryptocurrencies on balance sheets.

The call for greater transparency and public consultation reflects a broader demand within the crypto community for clear and consistent regulatory frameworks. As the SEC faces scrutiny over its regulatory practices, stakeholders emphasize fostering innovation while ensuring investor protection in the rapidly evolving crypto landscape.

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Ibrahim Abdulaziz

A fervent advocate, Ibrahim shares his wealth of knowledge on crypto and blockchain technology in an engaging and informative style. He frequents places where influencers gather for his next scoop. His vision is that the decentralized nature, security features, and potential for financial inclusion will drive widespread massive crypto adoption.

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