Request for increased budget for enforcement measures, etc.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler on Wednesday asked senators for additional funding to crack down and deploy technology. The funds also include a portion to supervise the crypto-asset (virtual currency) market.
Gensler has requested an additional budget of about 15.2 billion yen ($109 million) for next fiscal year for the SEC’s law enforcement activities.
After speaking about emerging risks in the investment environment in general, Gensler also addressed the cryptocurrency sector:
The cryptocurrency market has witnessed a “Wild West” where non-compliance is rampant and investors put their assets at risk due to high speculation.
Growth and rapid change in capital markets also means that the potential for fraud is increasing. As a law enforcement agency on the ground, we must be able to fight bad actors.
It also makes sense to increase the SEC’s budget to accommodate the growth and complexity of the capital markets.
He also pointed out that rapid technological innovation in the financial markets is causing fraudulent activity in “emerging areas, especially in the cryptocurrency sector.” Addressing this will require new tools, expertise and resources.
Gensler asked Congress for about 55 billion yen ($393 million) for technology-related expenses, in addition to additional budget for law enforcement. This includes the cost of data analytics and cybersecurity.
What is SEC
An abbreviation for “Securities and Exchange Commission,” a US government agency that supervises the trading of securities such as stocks and bonds. Its purpose is to ensure fair transactions and protect investors.
Increased enforcement action
Gensler said the SEC initiated more than 750 enforcement actions across its regulated markets in the 2022 federal fiscal year (October 2022-September 2023).
This is a 9% increase compared to the same period last year. These measures have resulted in approximately ¥894 billion ($6.4 billion) in fines and reimbursement of ill-gotten gains.
Criticism of “arbitrary crackdown”
Recent cases of legal action against the cryptocurrency sector include lawsuits against cryptocurrency exchanges Beaxy, Bittrex, Coinbase and Binance.
While the SEC has cracked down on truly fraudulent projects, it has been criticized for arbitrarily deeming certain tokens and other items as “unregistered securities” without providing clear guidelines to the cryptocurrency industry.
For example, the Blockchain Association, a U.S. crypto trade group, said in June that SEC Chairman Gensler has taken a firm stance that all cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin (BTC) are securities, which has prevented a fair decision by federal law.
connection: Chairman Gensler stresses SEC complies with law
In addition, in the Ripple vs. SEC trial over the virtual currency XRP, the district court recognized that only sales to institutional investors are securities, but it has just ruled that secondary sales to individual investors are not securities transactions.
connection: “The virtual currency XRP itself is not a security” US district court rules