Crypto firms to see more enforcement actions within 2 years — CFTC chair

Avatar

Rostin Behnam, chair of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), expects regulators in the country to continue to crack down on cryptocurrency firms as long as the market attracts interest from investors.

Speaking at the 2024 Global Conference on May 6, Behnam said despite “bad events” in 2022, which caused a market downturn and several companies to declare bankruptcy, the crypto market continues to grow and attract investors and entrepreneurs. He did not specifically say whether the CFTC or Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would be behind enforcement actions to protect investors, but both regulators have ongoing lawsuits against many crypto firms.

“We’re going to probably see in the next 6 to 18 months, or 6 to 24 months, another cycle of enforcement actions because of this cycle of asset appreciation and interest by retail investors,” said the CFTC chair. “Without a regulatory framework, without that transparency, without those tools that we typically use, as regulators, you’re going to continue to see this fraud and manipulation.”

Source: Eleanor Terrett

Behnam agreed with a moderator that having U.S. lawmakers bring crypto firms into the regulatory framework was the proper course of action. Members of the House of Representatives are awaiting a floor vote on legislation that could clarify the roles of the SEC and CFTC over digital assets, which moved out of committee in July 2023.

Related: CFTC commissioner warns against infringing on SEC’s authority in KuCoin case

According to a Cornerstone Research report released in January, the number of crypto-related enforcement cases brought by the SEC in 2023 was the highest since 2013. The regulator has cases pending against U.S. crypto firms, including Kraken, Binance and Coinbase, and issued a Wells notice — usually a precursor to an enforcement action — to Robinhood Crypto on May 4.

Behnam said in October that roughly a third of all enforcement actions the CFTC had taken against crypto firms occurred in 2023. The CFTC reported in November it had initiated 47 actions in the digital asset commodities sector, with cases including those against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky. The Commission was also a party to the $4.3 billion settlement between Binance and U.S. authorities in November.

Magazine: US enforcement agencies are turning up the heat on crypto-related crime