Judge rules that crypto trades made on exchanges are fair game for SEC

A recent ruling in the Western District Court of Washington has given the biggest indication yet from a federal judge that crypto traded on secondary markets like Coinbase should be classed as securities under the remit of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The case in question saw former Coinbase employee Ishan Wahi, his brother, and their friend Sameer Ramani accused of running a $1.5 million insider trading operation via the platform. Wahi and his brother have previously settled with the SEC, however, Ramani is still on the run.

On Friday, Judge Tana Lin officially ruled that, despite the trades made by the trio happening on Coinbase, they should still be classed as securities and therefore fall well within the jurisdiction of the SEC and its famously anti-crypto chair Gary Gensler.

Needless to say, such a ruling could have huge repercussions, not just for this case but for the entire crypto industry.

“Each issuer continued to make such representation regarding the profitability of their tokens even as the tokens were traded on secondary markets. Thus, under Howey, all of the crypto assets that Ramani purchased and traded were investment contracts,” wrote Judge Lin.

Read more: Gary Gensler hasn’t always believed everything but bitcoin is a security

Lin’s decision to classify crypto traded on secondary markets as securities is totally in step with Gensler, who believes that “everything other than Bitcoin” should be classed as a security. 

Friday’s ruling may also reportedly impact a separate case involving Kraken as Lin’s ruling will be incorporated as case law. In addition, multiple cases involving securities are being heard by appellate courts which means there’s a chance this ongoing debate on crypto securities could reach the Supreme Court.

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