On Aug. 3 2022, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler declared that he views cryptocurrencies traded in initial coin offerings, or ICOs, as securities.
The new chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made it abundantly clear during a speech at the Aspen Security Forum on August 3 that he agreed with his predecessor Jay Clayton’s statement from 2018 that “I believe every ICO I have seen is a security — we have jurisdiction, and our federal securities laws apply.”
In addition, the former MIT cryptocurrency professor made it clear that in his opinion the term securities
needs to be used as much as possible on the cryptocurrency market. Gensler said, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a stock token, a stable value token backed by securities, or any other virtual product that provides synthetic exposure to underlying securities. These products are subject to the securities laws and must work within our securities regime.”
Gensler argued that this is troubling because it implies that many of the cryptocurrencies and digital assets now available on the market should be regarded as unregistered securities that are being marketed “without needed disclosures or market monitoring.”
Investors are exposed and cryptocurrency values are vulnerable as a result, he cautioned. Gensler continued, “I’ve urged staff to continue to protect investors in the case of unregistered sales of securities.” Adding that, he was speaking for himself and not the SEC or the other commissioners in a formal statement.
This might have a significant impact on the SEC’s lawsuit against Ripple , which accuses the companies of selling ICOs without first registering it with the agency. This litigation represents the Commission’s first opportunity to have a court uphold its power to regulate cryptocurrencies as securities.
Gensler continued, “It’s also not merely a matter of token creators registering the cryptocurrency they want to sell with the SEC. Platforms on which securities are traded are also required to register with the SEC, as well as, in some situations, with banking regulators and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Gensler was also clear that this rule applies to all cryptocurrency exchanges, including foreign exchanges that claim to forbid U.S. users but that U.S. citizens can access with VPNs and decentralized exchanges, or DEXs, that theoretically lack any executive or management team that could be subject to
He continued, “The American public is buying, selling, and lending crypto on these trading, lending, and DeFi platforms, and there are serious holes in investor protection.” In addition, the registration requirement is applicable to cryptocurrency lending sites.