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Top GOP Senator Slams SEC for Ignoring Crypto Inferno

Legal

www.coindesk.com 27 July 2022 10:04, UTC
  
Reading time: ~2 m

Sen. Pat Toomey accused the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of dragging its feet on instituting oversight of crypto firms as some of those companies collapsed, taking investors’ cash with them.

“Had the SEC responded to calls for clarity on how it would apply existing securities laws to novel digital assets and services, things could have been different,” Toomey, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee that oversees the regulator, wrote in a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler. “Companies could have adjusted product offerings accordingly, preventing investor losses today, and the SEC would have been free to focus enforcement efforts on the worst actors.”

Toomey referenced firms that “often promised enormous, seemingly unsustainable interest rates to depositors, and at least one business allegedly engaged in risky practices,” and he further singled out Celsius’ lending that left billions of dollars of customer funds in limbo. Despite requests from the senator and other lawmakers – and crypto firms themselves – the SEC has declined to offer sufficient clarity about what digital assets meet the definition of securities, Toomey said in the Tuesday letter.

Gensler has routinely said the definitions already provided by legal precedent make it clear that most digital tokens are securities, and the exchanges where they’re traded should register with his agency.

Toomey, who has been taking up the crypto cause repeatedly during his final months in office, asked several enforcement-related questions of the agency and requested details about its findings on managing the so-called Howey test that defines securities. The letter calls for a response by Aug. 9.

In May, the senator made a different argument that crypto firms should be allowed to collapse and that firms melting down is a natural part of the financial system.

“It’ll probably take some failures in this space in order for the market to figure out what works,” he’d said as algorithmic stablecoin terraUSD (UST) floundered.

Toomey has also previously cautioned against aggressive investor-protection moves by the SEC. Last year, in defense of digital trading technologies, the lawmaker urged the agency “to proceed cautiously and avoid the temptation to pursue paternalistic regulations that restrict investor freedom under the guise of investor protection.”


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