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US SEC Abuses Power In Crypto Case; BNB Sued In Canada

In April of 2024, two lead lawyers, Michael Welsh and Joseph Watkins, resigned from their positions in the ongoing lawsuits against DEBT Box, a popular cryptocurrency network.

Their resignation was allegedly due to a stern warning issued by the legal counsel, which threatened termination if they continued with the case. According to their LinkedIn accounts, the lawyers were relatively new to the firm, and it remains to be seen if their departure will impact the ongoing litigation. Welsh was a trial attorney for the SEC from December 2022 until January 2023, while Watkins was an attorney for the Division of Enforcement. Chief Judge Robert J. Shelby, the federal judge presiding over the case in Salt Lake City, Utah, ordered the two to resign.

As part of its battle against Digital Licencing Inc., also known as DEBT Box, Judge Shelby sanctioned the SEC in March 2024 for making misleading statements and false claims. This made waves in the crypto industry, including those who play crypto casino games.

The Commission’s above-discussed conduct constitutes a gross abuse of the power entrusted to it by Congress and substantially undermines the integrity of these proceedings and the judicial process. – Judge Shelby said.

The SEC sought emergency relief in August 2023 to briefly freeze the assets of Digital Licencing Inc. and secure restraining orders against its principals. They claim to have uncovered a $50 million crypto fraud scheme from the company. 

Welsh knew his statement from the temporary restraining orders (TRO) hearing needed to be corrected. Rather than correcting the misstatement, he and the Commission attempted to subtly shift the language to gloss over and perpetuate the misconduct. – Judge Shelby added. 

Concerning the SEC's ‘regulation by enforcement' agenda, the crypto sector has been outspoken in its objections to the SEC’s approaches under Chair Gary Gensler. Critics of the approach claim it has made regulators less certain of their intentions, which hindered innovation and made the US less competitive in the crypto market.

BNB sued in Canada due to breaching local securities laws

In a recent class-action lawsuit in Canada, plaintiffs accused crypto exchange Binance of breaking Canadian securities rules. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued a certification petition for the litigation on April 19, 2024. 

It claims the company marketed crypto byproducts to private investors without proper registration. According to plaintiffs' attorneys Christopher Lochan and Jeremy Leeder, Binance allegedly offered crypto byproducts in breach of federal law and the Ontario Securities Act (OSA). 

The lawsuit aims to recover damages and end the illegal futures trades. The plaintiffs claim that thousands of Canadians used Binance to buy Bitcoin (BTC) byproducts.

As of March 2024, Binance accounted for 58% of the overall spot trading volumes among centralised exchanges (CEXs), making it a dominant player in the global crypto exchange market. 

Aside from being a prominent spot crypto trading venue, Binance also runs the largest byproducts market compared to other exchanges such as Bybit and OKX. Based on Bybit stats, CEXs, Bybit, OKX, and Binance almost entirely dominate the byproducts market. 

The most recent class action lawsuit against Binance follows the crypto exchange's statement in June 2021 that it will stop operating in Ontario. This decision came after the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) issued a warning to the company.

The new court document states that in early 2022, the OSC notified the defendants of its intention to seek a cease trade order because it failed to adhere to this announced cessation of sales.

Despite Binance's notice of its exit from Canada in May 2023, city officials continued to take strict actions against the exchange. The court filing states that the OSC's perusal against the defendants is still in progress.

Why are many crypto exchanges facing challenges today?

One of the biggest problems crypto markets face is the lack of rules. It is challenging for exchanges to operate because governments around the world are still figuring out how to regulate crypto. 

Rules vary from one country to another and rules can be strict or vague in some scenarios. This makes things unclear and makes it harder for crypto exchanges to function properly.

Security has also been a long-time concern in the crypto world. Crypto exchanges need to make sure that the assets and personal details of their users are safe. On the other hand, fraudsters and hackers are always looking for holes in systems that they can use. 

Attackers take advantage of weak security measures on an exchange, stealing money and making users lose trust. Once a crypto exchange gets hacked, it’s hard for them to retain trust among users.

To address these issues, exchanges, lawmakers, and the crypto market as a whole will need to work together. As one, they need to establish clear policies, enhance security measures, improve infrastructure, and promote transparency. This will build a solid sense of trust, making crypto users like those who play crypto casino games feel safer. 

Summary

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has faced criticism for its aggressive approach to regulating the cryptocurrency industry. In a recent case against DEBT Box, a popular cryptocurrency network, the SEC was sanctioned by Judge Shelby for making misleading statements and false claims. This incident has raised concerns about the SEC's abuse of power and its impact on the crypto market.

Two lead lawyers, Michael Welsh and Joseph Watkins, resigned from their positions in the ongoing lawsuits against DEBT Box, allegedly due to a stern warning issued by the legal counsel. The SEC sought emergency relief in August 2023 to freeze the assets of Digital Licencing Inc. and secure restraining orders against its principals, claiming to have uncovered a $50 million crypto fraud scheme. However, Judge Shelby found that the SEC's conduct constituted a gross abuse of power and undermined the integrity of the proceedings.

The crypto sector has been vocal in its objections to the SEC's “regulation by enforcement” agenda under Chair Gary Gensler. Critics argue that this approach has created uncertainty among regulators, hindered innovation, and made the US less competitive in the crypto market.

In a separate case, plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit in Canada have accused crypto exchange Binance of violating Canadian securities laws. This lawsuit highlights the need for clear regulations and compliance in the crypto industry.

To address these issues, exchanges, lawmakers, and the crypto market must collaborate to establish clear policies, enhance security measures, improve infrastructure, and promote transparency. By working together, they can build trust and create a safer environment for crypto users, including those who engage in crypto casino games.

Actionable Advice

  1. Crypto exchanges should prioritize compliance with local securities laws and regulations to avoid legal issues and maintain user trust.
  2. Lawmakers and regulators should work with the crypto industry to develop clear and consistent guidelines, fostering innovation while protecting investors.
  3. Crypto projects should focus on transparency and security to build trust among users and regulators.
    Investors should conduct thorough research and due diligence before investing in any crypto project, considering the regulatory landscape and potential risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SEC's role in regulating the cryptocurrency industry?
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is responsible for protecting investors, maintaining fair and orderly functioning of the securities markets, and facilitating capital formation. In the context of cryptocurrencies, the SEC aims to prevent fraud, ensure compliance with securities laws, and provide oversight to the industry.

Why has the SEC been criticized for its approach to regulating cryptocurrencies?
The SEC has faced criticism for its “regulation by enforcement” approach, which involves taking legal action against crypto projects and companies without providing clear guidelines or regulations. This approach has been seen as creating uncertainty in the market, hindering innovation, and making the US less competitive in the global crypto landscape.

What happened in the case against DEBT Box?
In the case against DEBT Box, a popular cryptocurrency network, the SEC was sanctioned by Judge Shelby for making misleading statements and false claims. The judge found that the SEC's conduct constituted a gross abuse of power and undermined the integrity of the proceedings.

Why did two lead lawyers resign from the DEBT Box case?
Two lead lawyers, Michael Welsh and Joseph Watkins, resigned from their positions in the ongoing lawsuits against DEBT Box, allegedly due to a stern warning issued by the legal counsel. The warning threatened termination if they continued with the case.

What did the SEC claim about Digital Licencing Inc.?
The SEC sought emergency relief in August 2023 to freeze the assets of Digital Licencing Inc. and secure restraining orders against its principals, claiming to have uncovered a $50 million crypto fraud scheme.

What is the significance of the class-action lawsuit against Binance in Canada?
The class-action lawsuit against Binance in Canada, which accuses the crypto exchange of violating Canadian securities laws, highlights the need for clear regulations and compliance in the crypto industry.

What steps can the crypto industry take to address the issues raised by these cases?
To address the issues raised by these cases, exchanges, lawmakers, and the crypto market must collaborate to establish clear policies, enhance security measures, improve infrastructure, and promote transparency. By working together, they can build trust and create a safer environment for crypto users.

What can crypto exchanges do to avoid legal issues and maintain user trust?
Crypto exchanges should prioritize compliance with local securities laws and regulations to avoid legal issues and maintain user trust. They should also focus on implementing strong security measures and promoting transparency in their operations.

How can lawmakers and regulators support the growth of the crypto industry while protecting investors?
Lawmakers and regulators should work with the crypto industry to develop clear and consistent guidelines that foster innovation while protecting investors. This can be achieved through open dialogue, collaboration, and a balanced approach to regulation.

What should investors consider before investing in crypto projects?
Investors should conduct thorough research and due diligence before investing in any crypto project. They should consider factors such as the regulatory landscape, potential risks, the team behind the project, and the project's fundamentals. It is essential to make informed decisions and invest responsibly in the crypto market.

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