Commissioner Hester Peirce, known colloquially as “Crypto Mom,” has slammed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its $10 million settlement with cryptocurrency exchange, Poloniex.
The SEC announced the $10 million settlement on Aug. 9, with Poloniex being charged with facilitating trades in unregistered securities between July 2017 and November 2019.
The SEC asserted that Poloniex employees “stated internally” that they wanted to be “aggressive” in circumventing securities regulation in a bid to increase market share by listing new digital assets that may be deemed securities under the Howey Test of 1946. Poloniex elected to neither admit nor deny any wrongdoing.
On the same day, Peirce slammed the regulator’s actions in a public statement, emphasizing the opaque regulatory framework that crypto firms must navigate in the United States.
The commissioner highlighted several regulatory matters that the SEC has been criticized for failing to clarify with regards to digital asset businesses, including how to determine whether an asset is a security and what licenses and exemptions are appropriately required to operate a cryptocurrency exchange:
“Given how slow we have been in determining how regulated entities can interact with crypto, market participants may understandably be surprised to see us come onto the scene now with our enforcement guns blazing and argue that Poloniex was not registered or operating under an exemption as it should have been.”
Peirce added if Poloniex had tried to register as a securities exchange or as an alternative trading system (ATS) with the SEC, the firm “likely would have waited…and waited…and waited some more.”
USD coin (USDC) Stablecoin issuer Circle acquired Poloniex for $400 million back in 2018. In October of the following year, Circle spun out Poloniex’s exchange business, selling it to a consortium of investors.