Former SEC chair calls bitcoin ETF approval ‘inevitable’

Jay Clayton rebuffed spot bitcoin ETFs during his term, but he thinks the SEC is ready to give the green light


Former SEC Chair Jay Clayton


In an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Monday morning, former SEC Chair Jay Clayton said he thinks approval on a potential bitcoin spot ETF is a foregone conclusion. 

“I think approval’s inevitable…and I think there’s nothing left to decide,” Clayton said.

Clayton was nominated as SEC chair by Donald Trump in 2017 and resigned from the position at the end of 2020. 

Near the end of his term, Clayton’s SEC brought charges against Ripple over an apparent unregistered securities offering. Since then, both Ripple and the SEC were handed partial wins when a judge ruled that the programmatic sale of the XRP token was not an investment contract.

The SEC also moved to dismiss charges against both Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and former executive Christian Larsen back in October.

Read more: Investors are ‘the clear winners’ as bitcoin ETF fee battle comes into focus

Clayton has since become involved in the crypto space. In 2021, he joined an advisory board at crypto custody platform Fireblocks. He has been an active voice in discussions about crypto regulation — and now, the several pending applications for bitcoin spot ETFs. 

Grayscale was stymied in getting its bitcoin spot ETF approved throughout Clayton’s term. In the segment, Clayton seems to allude to his seeming about-face on the service.

“Five years ago there was wash sales, there was laddering, there was all sorts of things that you wouldn’t want to make available to the general public,” Clayton said. 

Clayton’s SEC rejected bids to launch a bitcoin ETF during his tenure.

A decision on the potential spot bitcoin ETFs is expected later this week. The SEC has until Jan. 10 to give a bitcoin ETF proposal from Ark 21Shares a decision. Potential issuers have already submitted amended registration filings detailing fees and other key details in anticipation of a possible decision. 

Bitcoin’s price spiked past $47,000 Monday as investors anticipate SEC approval of several spot bitcoin ETFs. 

Current SEC Chair Gary Gensler penned an X thread Monday morning outlining some of the risks involved with investing in crypto, adding fuel to speculation that the agency’s decision is imminent.

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