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Kraken files motion to dismiss the ongoing SEC lawsuit

source-logo  cryptopolitan.com 23 February 2024 15:33, UTC

Kraken, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, is embroiled in a legal dispute with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), contesting what it views as a precedent-setting lawsuit that could significantly expand the SEC’s regulatory authority. On February 22, Kraken filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in a San Francisco federal court, arguing that the SEC’s interpretation of investment contracts lacks a limiting principle and poses a threat to commercial activity.

Kraken argues SEC’s regulatory authority

At the heart of the SEC’s allegations is the claim that Kraken unlawfully profited from transactions involving “crypto asset securities” and provided various financial services without proper registration with the agency. Kraken refutes these accusations, asserting that the cryptocurrencies traded on its platform do not meet the criteria to be considered investment contracts under U.S. securities laws.

According to Kraken’s defense, there was no contractual agreement between its customers and the cryptocurrency issuers, nor was there any common enterprise or expectation of profits derived from the efforts of issuers. Furthermore, Kraken argues that the SEC’s broad definition of securities could lead to absurd outcomes, potentially encompassing ordinary assets such as sports memorabilia, trading cards, and even diamonds.

Kraken contends that such an expansive interpretation exceeds the historical authority of the SEC and could have far-reaching implications for industries beyond cryptocurrency. In its defense, Kraken invokes the “major questions doctrine,” a legal principle established by a 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. This doctrine holds that significant questions of regulatory policy should be addressed by Congress through legislation rather than delegated to regulatory agencies like the SEC.

By applying this doctrine, Kraken asserts that Congress intended to limit the authority of agencies such as the SEC and prevent them from overreaching their regulatory powers. Kraken’s legal challenge is part of a broader trend within the cryptocurrency industry, where major players are contesting the SEC’s jurisdiction and regulatory approach.

The exchange stands its ground in the lawsuit

Notably, other prominent crypto firms, including Binance, Coinbase, and Terraform Labs, have also cited the major questions doctrine in their attempts to dismiss SEC lawsuits. These legal battles underscore the ongoing debate over how cryptocurrencies should be regulated in the United States and the role of regulatory agencies in overseeing this rapidly evolving sector.

Beyond the courtroom, the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies is being shaped by legislative efforts in Congress. Lawmakers are currently considering various proposals aimed at regulating the industry, reflecting the growing recognition of the need for clear regulatory frameworks in the crypto space.

Kraken’s legal confrontation with the SEC highlights the complexities and uncertainties surrounding cryptocurrency regulation. As the crypto industry continues to expand and innovate, regulatory authorities face the challenge of balancing investor protection with fostering innovation and market growth.

Kraken’s stance on regulatory matters aligns with its previous advocacy efforts. Last May, the exchange testified before a Congressional hearing focused on crypto regulation, advocating for a regulatory framework that limits the SEC’s authority while expanding the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to cover crypto exchanges.

Kraken alleges that the SEC’s decision to sue the exchange came shortly after its testimony before Congress, suggesting a potential link between regulatory advocacy and legal action. Kraken’s legal challenge to the SEC underscores broader tensions within the cryptocurrency industry regarding regulatory oversight. As regulators grapple with the complexities of this emerging asset class, the outcomes of these legal battles could have significant implications for the future of crypto regulation in the United States and beyond.