Bigger Guns: SEC Ramps Up Enforcement Team on Crypto, Doubles Headcount at Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will double its enforcement team when it comes to the crypto or digital assets sector.

According to a statement by the SEC, the renamed Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit (formerly the Cyber Unit) will increase its headcount to 50 individuals.

The SEC states that since its creation in 2017, the unit has brought more than 80 enforcement actions related to crypto offerings and platforms, delivering “monetary relief” totaling more than $2 billion.

The SEC says the expanded unit will leverage the agency’s expertise to ensure investors are protected in the crypto markets, with a focus on investigating securities law violations related to:

  • Crypto asset offerings;
  • Crypto asset exchanges;
  • Crypto asset lending and staking products;
  • Decentralized finance (“DeFi”) platforms;
  • Non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”);
  • Stablecoins

SEC Chair Gary Gensler commented on the revamped unit saying that capital markets in the US are the greatest because people have faith in them and as more individuals access crypto assets the SEC requires more resources:

“The Division of Enforcement’s Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit has successfully brought dozens of cases against those seeking to take advantage of investors in crypto markets. By nearly doubling the size of this key unit, the SEC will be better equipped to police wrongdoing in the crypto markets while continuing to identify disclosure and controls issues with respect to cybersecurity.”

Gurbir S. Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, added that crypto markets have exploded in recent years with retail shouldering the “brunt of abuses.”

“Meanwhile, cyber-related threats continue to pose existential risks to our financial markets and participants. The bolstered Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit will be at the forefront of protecting investors and ensuring fair and orderly markets in the face of these critical challenges.”

The SEC has taken a posture of practically all digital assets are securities. While the SEC has only pursued a few crypto exchanges, ongoing statements indicate this is a sector of crypto that the Commission will target to a growing degree, alongside crypto offerings deemed to be unregistered securities.

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