Former CFTC chair alleges SEC acted deliberately in timing of Coinbase lawsuit

Quick Take

  • The SEC appears to have acted deliberately when it brought charges against Coinbase hours before its chief legal officer was set to testify before Congress, former CFTC Chair Chris Giancarlo said on Thursday. 
  • Giancarlo said that, from his experience in leading a federal agency, the move seemed “deliberate.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could have acted deliberately when it brought charges against Coinbase hours before its chief legal officer was set to testify before Congress, according former Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Christopher Giancarlo.

Giancarlo said that, from his experience in leading a federal agency, the move appeared to be “deliberate.”

“That’s politics,” Giancarlo said Thursday at an event in New York. Giancarlo was CFTC chair from 2017 to 2019. 

The SEC accused the crypto exchange on June 6 of willfully violating federal securities laws when it listed unregistered securities and offered its staking program. Hours later, Coinbase Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal appeared before the House Agriculture Committee to testify. 

Crypto regulation 

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At that hearing, Grewal said it was “disappointing, but not surprising that the SEC has decided to bring legal action against Coinbase today, the day of our testimony before this committee’s critical hearing on creating a workable framework for digital asset regulation.”

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment when asked about Giancarlo’s comment. SEC Chair Gary Gensler has called on crypto exchanges to register with the agency, and has said the agency is ready to help them come into compliance. 

Giancarlo was also asked about the prospects of various bills to regulate crypto floating in the House. 

“I think there is a very good