The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stepped up its enforcement efforts in the cryptocurrency space, filing 784 enforcement actions and obtaining nearly $5 billion in financial remediation orders in fiscal year 2023. This marks a significant increase from the previous year, highlighting the SEC’s growing focus on protecting investors from crypto-related fraud and misconduct.
A major focus of the SEC’s enforcement actions has been on fraudulent crypto schemes. The agency has filed charges against several high-profile individuals and companies, including Terraform Labs, its founder Do Kwon, and FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried. These cases allege that the defendants engaged in deceptive practices to raise billions of dollars from investors.
Crypto Lending and Staking Under Scrutiny
The SEC has also taken action against companies for offering unregistered digital asset securities. This includes lending and staking programs, as well as non-fungible token (NFT) offerings. The agency has charged several companies, including Genesis/Gemini, Celsius, Kraken, Nexo, Impact Theory LLC, and Stoner Cats 2 LLC, for failing to register their offerings with the SEC.
The SEC has also cracked down on influencers who have illegally touted digital asset securities without disclosing their compensation. In fiscal year 2023, the agency charged several celebrities, including NBA Hall of Famer Paul Pierce and media personality Kim Kardashian, for promoting crypto investments without the required disclosures.
In addition, the SEC has continued to focus on cybersecurity issues in the crypto industry. The agency charged broker-dealer Virtu for allegedly failing to properly protect sensitive customer information, and it settled charges against software company Blackbaud Inc. for misleading disclosures about a ransomware attack.
Overall, the SEC’s fiscal year 2023 enforcement results send a clear message that the agency is committed to protecting investors in the crypto space. The agency’s actions are likely to have a significant impact on the industry, as companies and individuals will need to take steps to comply with SEC regulations.