Gensler’s SEC brought 46 crypto-related enforcements in 2023

The SEC’s crypto-related enforcement actions are up 53% since 2022


A new report from Cornerstone Research found that the US Securities and Exchange Commission brought 46 actions against crypto firms last year. 

Since 2013, the agency has brought a total of 173 enforcement actions to crypto entities, with 2023 representing a new record high. 

“The 46 cryptocurrency-related enforcement actions brought by the SEC in 2023 represent the highest number of such actions brought by the SEC in a single year,” the report found. 

To put the figure in perspective, the SEC only brought 30 actions in 2022, so 2023 saw an uptick of over 50%. 

61% of the actions alleged that the entity violated securities laws, though 57% alleged fraud under either the Securities or Exchange Act. 

Read more: SEC will ‘apply precedent’ when making decision on spot ether ETFs: Peirce

“Relative to 2022, the number of litigations slightly increased, while the number of administrative proceedings more than tripled,” the report said.

The SEC brought $2.89 billion worth of penalties against crypto market participants by the end of 2023, with settlements topping $281 million last year.

The agency’s fiscal year operates from September to September, so the numbers reported by the regulator may differ from Cornerstone’s research.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler previously said that the agency used enforcement as a “tool” and that it wasn’t meant to be the “destination.”

Read more: Commissioner statements on bitcoin ETF approvals signal contention among SEC leaders

In early 2023, market participants noted that the SEC was quickly racking up enforcement actions. Back in May, Martin Leinweber, digital asset product strategist at MarketVector Indexes, said that Gensler “increased the number of enforcement attorneys in the SEC’s crypto unit, shifting the focus from individual tokens to trading platforms that cater to US investors.”

In June, Gensler’s agency brought actions against Coinbase and Binance — two of the largest exchanges — alleging that both operated as unregistered exchanges and offered unregistered securities. 

The SEC also brought its first enforcement action against NFTs back in August, though Commissioners Hester Peirce and Mark Uyeda jointly disagreed with the action. Both commissioners voted yes, alongside Gensler, to approve bitcoin ETFs.

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