SEC Working on ‘Dozens’ of Cryptocurrency Probes, Official Says

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By Andrew Ramonas

The SEC has “dozens” of investigations open in the cryptocurrency space, a senior agency official said March 15.

The remarks from Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement Division Co-Director Stephanie Avakian came after media reports in February that the agency sent subpoenas to firms it thinks might be breaking securities laws through their involvement in initial coin offerings. ICOs raised billions of dollars in 2017 by selling digital assets and have faced increasing scrutiny from the commission during the past several months.

“We are very active, and I would just expect to see more and more,” Avakian said at an Investment Adviser Association conference in Washington.

She later told reporters she didn’t know how close the SEC is to bringing any enforcement actions stemming from the probes.

‘Seeing a Lot’

The commission has brought more than a half-dozen cryptocurrency-related actions against companies since September 2017, according to Bloomberg Law’s ICO Developments Tracker. The actions came after the agency released a first-of-its-kind investigative report that found digital tokens an organization sold to raise capital were securities and subject to applicable U.S. laws.

Recent SEC work in the cryptocurrency space has led to emergency asset freezes halting ICOs and to trading suspensions for companies that drew questions from the agency after they claimed crypto-related acquisitions of assets.

The commission also released a statement March 7 reminding cryptocurrency trading platforms that many of them may need to register with the SEC as exchanges.

“We’re doing obviously a lot in the crypto space, and we’re seeing a lot in the crypto space,” Avakian said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Ramonas in Washington at aramonas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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