The US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) Enforcement Division Co-Director Stephanie Avakian confirmed that the agency is conducting “dozens” of investigations in the cryptocurrency space, Bloomberg BNA reports March 15.
Avakain’s comments follow press reports in late February that the SEC has sent subpoenas to companies suspected of running afoul of securities laws via their involvement in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Avakian said, “We are very active, and I would just expect to see more and more.”
Over the course of the past year, the SEC has ramped up its actions against crypto-related companies it sees as flaunting securities laws. The commission has brought more than half a dozen actions against companies since September 2017, according Bloomberg.
On March 7th the SEC released a statement reminding cryptocurrency trading platforms that they fall under the jurisdiction and regulatory purview of the SEC, and as a result, must register as exchanges. In February 2018, SEC oversight resulted in the trading of three different companies being suspended due to “questions” regarding ties to cryptocurrency.
The regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in the US remains unclear. As Chief Legal and Risk Officer at Coinbase Mike Lempres pointed out in a testimony before Congress on March 14, the major financial regulatory bodies cannot agree on the nature of cryptocurrency. The SEC considers it a security, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), considers tokens a commodity, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers tokens to be property, while the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) consider tokens currency.