SEC publishes 2024 assessment metrics for crypto industry registrants

Written and published by the SEC’s Division of Examinations, these standards will prioritize risk areas that pose emerging threats to investors or the market’s integrity.

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published its key focus areas for examining market risks and participants in fiscal year 2024, unveiling heightened scrutiny on crypto assets, blockchain, and other emerging financial technology.

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Written and published by the SEC’s Division of Examinations, these standards will prioritize risk areas that pose emerging threats to investors or the market’s integrity.

Regarding digital assets and blockchain specifically, the Division will continue to conduct examinations of registrants with a focus on the offer, sale, recommendation of, advice regarding, trading in, and other activities in crypto assets or related products.

The focus of such examination of registrants is twofold. First, registrants will be evaluated for “respective standards of conduct when recommending or advising customers and clients regarding crypto assets, with a focus on an initial and ongoing understanding of the products.” Second, registrants must “routinely review, update, and enhance their compliance practices.”

The Division emphasized that its attention will be on broker-dealers and advisors offering new technological products and services, particularly interested in those providing automated investment advice. The agency’s interest in these categories underlines its concerns about the risks of using emerging technologies and alternative data sources.

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This comes against a backdrop of recent tensions between the SEC and the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. Recently, SEC Chair Gary Gensler was threatened with a compulsory process if the agency failed to comply with oversight requests from the Committee.

Nevertheless, Gensler has consistently rejected arguments calling for ‘regulatory clarity’ in speeches on crypto regulation. He has frequently asserted that existing securities laws are adequate for governing digital assets. In a June speech, Gensler emphasized that the language used to label an investment contract does not alter what it fundamentally is, and “the economic realities of a product—not the labels—determine whether it is a security under the securities laws.”

Posted In: U.S., Regulation

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Author: Jacob Oliver

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