The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sent subpoenas in recent weeks to scores of companies and individuals who are involved in the booming cryptocurrency market, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The article, based on anonymous sources and published last week, says that those who received the subpoenas included firms that have launched initial coin offerings (ICOs), which are the cryptocurrency equivalent of IPOs, and information was requested on how ICO sales and pre-sales are formed. According to The New York Times, the SEC is also demanding to know the identities of the investors who bought digital tokens.
This is the latest step by the U.S. regulator that has been increasingly focusing its attention on the industry that topped $700bn in January, thanks largely to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple.
Previously, the SEC’s chairman, Jay Clayton, confirmed that no ICOs had registered with the Commission as of February 6, despite such offerings having become extremely popular over the last 12 months.
He said: “Many ICOs are being conducted illegally…Their promoters and other participants are not following our security laws. Some people say that’s because the law isn’t clear. I do not buy that for a moment.”
I fully support the SEC’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies. I welcome that it is, in effect, putting any potentially unscrupulous players in the industry ‘on notice’ that they are, rightly, in the regulator’s sights.
This is, in my opinion, clearly an area in which there is an enormous need for a robust international regulatory framework and strict ongoing supervision because whether traditionalists and crypto cynics like it or not, digital currencies in some form or another are here to stay. The technology clock cannot and will not be turned back.
Strong regulation will help protect the growing numbers of both retail and institutional investors, help combat cryptocurrency criminality, strengthen the market itself as it will give investors more confidence, reduce the potential threat of the likes of Bitcoin disrupting global financial stability, as well as offering a possible long-term economic boost to jurisdictions that introduce it.
The SEC’s probe is part of growing movement by many international financial watchdogs, lawmakers and central banks, such as the Bank of England, to look into cryptocurrencies.
With this in mind, I believe that crypto regulation is inevitable and that this is something that will be welcomed and promoted by those in the industry who have solid business practices and, more importantly, by the wider public.
Nigel Green is founder and CEO of deVere Group. One of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organizations, de Vere does business in 100 countries and has more than $12 billion under advisement.
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