SEC Chair Gensler, Frustrated by Crypto Focus, Defends Regulatory Actions

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Gary Gensler, Chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), expressed frustration with the overwhelming focus on cryptocurrency during media interviews, stating that the crypto market is a small fraction of the overall financial landscape.

During an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box on May 7, Gensler highlighted the discrepancy between the size of the traditional financial markets, valued at approximately $110 trillion, and the cryptocurrency market, valued at around $2.4 trillion. 

SEC Chair and Crypto Discussions

The SEC Chair noted that despite the disparity in market size, crypto often dominates discussions and media coverage.

Gensler emphasized, “Crypto is a small piece of our overall markets.” He attributed the extensive media attention on crypto to its prevalence in scams, frauds, and regulatory challenges due to non-compliance with U.S. securities laws.

Crypto Enquiries Dominate Discussions

Responding to questions about the SEC’s focus, Gensler highlighted the media’s attention on crypto, noting that during his numerous appearances, crypto-related inquiries consistently dominate discussions despite the vastness of traditional financial markets.

The SEC Chair evaded questions regarding specific cases, such as the Wells notice issued to Robinhood over alleged violations of securities laws related to its crypto services. He reiterated concerns about inadequate disclosures in the crypto space and emphasized that many tokens could be classified as securities under U.S. law.

SEC Chair Responds to Accusations

In response to criticism from Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s legal chief, who accused the SEC Chair of misleading the market by considering all tokens as securities, Gensler maintained the SEC’s position, stating that the classification of tokens depends on individual circumstances.

Gensler also avoided directly addressing whether Ether (ETH) is a security, instead stating that such determinations and decisions regarding crypto-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs) would be made by the SEC commissioners at the appropriate time.

No Clear Answers Regarding ETH

Regarding allegations of misleading Congress, stemming from Gensler’s refusal to provide clear answers about ETH classification, he defended the SEC’s actions, stating that the agency only discloses information when it files lawsuits or brings enforcement actions.

The SEC has significantly intensified its regulatory actions in the crypto space, with 46 enforcement actions against crypto firms in 2023, representing a decade-high. 

Presently, at least a dozen cases involving allegations of unregistered securities sales and illegal operations are pending in U.S. courts as the SEC continues to assert its oversight in the cryptocurrency industry.

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