Reps. Torres And Flood Highlight SEC Oversight Hearing With Chair Gensler

SEC Chair Gensler at House Financial Services hearing

Republicans didn’t waste any time questioning the moves and motives of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler at the House Financial Services (HFS) “SEC Oversight” hearing today.

Video is here.

Minutes before the hearing commenced, a full-throated rejection by the Committee’s Republican caucus “slamming the agency for its persistent failure to conduct thorough economic analysis or consider stakeholder feedback regarding its regulatory agenda” was announced in the form of a letter to Chair Gensler. Read the release -and the letter.

Yesterday’s letter on Bitcoin spot market ETF’s sent by HFS committee member Rep. Mike Flood may have been more impressive given its bipartisan nature – both Rep. Ritchie Torres (D, NY) and Rep. Wiley Nickel (D, NC) signed on.

two things

As it turned out, during the hearing, the most revelatory moment related to digital assets was arguably provided by a Democrat (Rep. Torres (D, NY)see below), Tokenization is a tripwire when it comes to securities laws for Chair Gensler.

And, another highlight was Rep. Mike Flood’s (R, NE) questioning of Chair Gensler about Staff Accounting Bulletin 121 (SAB 121) and, separately, Flood’s announcement about the new “Uniform Treatment of Custodial Assets Act” which would gut the SEC’s bulletin. See below.

Also: This was an uninterrupted 4.5 hour hearing that ended at 2:29 p.m. ET. Wow. April’s House SEC Oversight hearing was only 3 hours and 45 minutes. Continue reading “Reps. Torres And Flood Highlight SEC Oversight Hearing With Chair Gensler”

Are Modifications Needed to the Howey Test? It’s Time for the Digital Asset Test

SEC Chair Gary Gensler

At The Financial Markets Quality Conference, hosted by Georgetown McDonough’s Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy in D.C., Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler participated in a virtual fireside chat covering everything from payment for order flow to crypto.

Gensler offered no surprises in his crypto-related answers. See the interview on YouTube.

He remains convinced all the regulation is in place with the Howey Test whose foundation was laid by securities laws created in 1933 and 1934 and then “tested” in a case in front of the Supreme Court in the 1946 focused on land sales of Florida orange groves. Ever since, it has served as the basis for understanding “What is a security.”

But, Chair Gensler was talking to a peer with interviewer and Georgetown professor Reena Aggarwal, who Gensler said volunteered as part of President Biden’s transition team for financial regulatory agencies. The dynamic seemed to allow for Ms. Aggarawal to press a bit further. With her crypto questions centered on regulatory needs, she drilled down to the baseline of the Howey Test which required a crisp answer from the Chair.

Continue reading “Are Modifications Needed to the Howey Test? It’s Time for the Digital Asset Test”

Defiant or Defensive, SEC Chair Gensler Unleashes PR Blitz On Crypto

SEC Chair Gary Gensler at NYC Summit

Spinning out of the Labor Day holiday, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler unleashed a public relations blitz about cryptocurrency and its regulation.

His position mostly reinforced what the Chair has said before: crypto companies should “come in” and connect with the SEC to ensure regulatory compliance, the Howey Test is the unquestionable arbiter of all things securities-related and Bitcoin is a commodity.

Putting his many appearances together such as SEC Speaks 2022, The Wall Street Journal and CoinDesk, Chair Gensler appears either increasingly defiant or defensive in relation to the crypto hordes depending on your point-of-view.

The least publicized of his media appearances on Wednesday was his 10-minute taped interview (see the video) with former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker for NYC Summit. Ms. Pritzker’s firm Inspired Capital co-hosted the New York City entrepreneurial ecosystem event along with Primary Capital.

Gensler’s role as head of the CFTC (2009-2014) overlapped six months with Pritzker’s Commerce Secretary role (2013-2017) during the Obama administration.

Interview highlights

Among the questions, Ms. Pritzker inquired about “Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies” and how the Chair saw them evolving from a regulatory standpoint. Chair Gensler avoided mentioning any cryptocurrency by name other than Bitcoin:

(lightly edited for clarity)

“This is a bit of innovation that came along, whomever Satoshi Nakamoto, whoever she was, or he, this innovation. And the investing public got interested – certainly by five, six years ago – got pretty interested. I think that it’s similar to what I said earlier. I think the investing public benefits from disclosures, understanding what a group of entrepreneurs might be doing, and, frankly, that most of the tokens and there’s five or 10,000 tokens to buy most of the tokens have a group of entrepreneurs and the public is trying to invest in those projects and get a better future. Well, those are the attributes of a security. And those are things that the SEC does well. I’ve said come in, talk to us, help get the the intermediaries registered, the crypto exchanges, the crypto lending platforms, the crypto broker dealers, registered we can use exemptive authority to to where we can to tailor this but also the disclosures around the tokens.”

Continue reading “Defiant or Defensive, SEC Chair Gensler Unleashes PR Blitz On Crypto”