The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit (CACU) has grown its staff from 30 to 50 officials as it aims to get a better handle on abuses and threats still plaguing crypto markets.
The watchdog said the 20 additional supervisors, counsels, attorneys, and analysts are responsible for protecting investors in crypto markets from cyber-related threats.
“The US has the greatest capital markets because investors have faith in them, and as more investors access the crypto markets, it is increasingly important to dedicate more resources to protecting them,” said SEC chair, Gary Gensler.
“By nearly doubling the size of this key unit, the SEC will be better equipped to police wrongdoing in the crypto markets while continuing to identify disclosure and controls issues with respect to cybersecurity,” he added.
Tuesday’s press release included a series of securities violations that are being prioritized:
- Crypto asset exchanges and offerings
- Crypto asset lending and staking products
- Decentralized finance platforms
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
The SEC claims to have issued over 80 enforcement actions since its creation in 2017. Most of these cases are related to fraudulent crypto platforms and asset offerings which have garnered more than $2 billion in monetary relief.
2021 was a big year for the SEC — and it’s just getting started
So far this year, the US government has shown no signs of letting up in its quest to stamp its authority on the crypto space.
It began with US president Joe Biden declaring the regulation of cryptocurrency in the States a matter of national security.
As a result, an executive order was put in place in March and while it doesn’t implement any new regulations itself, it does cement the White House’s stance that agencies should begin keeping closer tabs on the digital asset space.
Before this, in February, the SEC probed Binance about its relationship with two market makers (both allegedly controlled by the exchange’s chief exec Changpeng Zhao).
And, as reported by Bloomberg, the SEC subpoenaed various NFT projects and trading platforms, also in February, to determine whether or not NFT offerings were being used to raise capital like regular securities.
Another platform caught by the watchdog was BlockFi. The SEC found that the company’s crypto lending product, BlockFi Interest Accounts, had failed to register its offerings and sales, resulting in a $100 million fine.
And now the DeFi startup is facing a fresh wave of lawsuits from pissed users.
SEC chair Gary Gensler recently reiterated that crypto exchanges and custodians that list securities and non-securities for trading are subject to clear regulations that have existed for nearly a century.
Edit 12:19 UTC, May 4: Updated headline for clarity.