Talk of SEC subpoena swirls at New York crypto event as regulatory scrutiny grows

Monday morning, amid the bustle of the Mainnet 2021 crypto conference in New York, an attendee tweeted that he had witnessed an event speaker being "served by the SEC" before they were set to take the stage. 

The post set off a wave of speculation about the veracity of the claim, the recipient of the rumored subpoena and the broader notion that the Securities and Exchange Commission was using a crypto event as a springboard to conduct investigations.

Efforts to independently confirm the veracity of the claim were unsuccessful, and the attendee, investor Slava Rubin, did not respond to a follow-up request for comment. Several attendees with whom The Block spoke said they had heard multiple people were served at the event.  

However, Ryan Selkis, CEO of Messari, the company behind the event, appeared to confirm that a subpoena was issued at the event.

When reached for comment about the rumors, an SEC representative shared with The Block a directory of public events and a transcript of a speech given by SEC chairman Gary Gensler at an event in Washington, D.C. 

U.S. regulators at the state and federal levels have been ramping up their public-facing activity in the crypto space in recent months. Just lack week, Celsius became the latest crypto lender to face scrutiny from a bevy of state securities watchdogs.

On the national level, Gensler has been increasingly vocal about the agency's interest in policing crypto company activities, including those in the decentralized finance or DeFi space. He suggested to The Block during a recent conversation after a congressional hearing that custodial lending and staking services may also fall under his agency's purview.

A government report on stablecoins being spearheaded by the U.S. Treasury Department is expected to be published in the coming days and weeks — an event that may serve as a springboard for further action on that front.