SEC Chief Got Into 'Heated' Debate on Crypto

A newly released transcript from an SEC roundtable showcases the passionate discussion around crypto within the agency.

Aug 1, 2018 at 3:20 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 8:14 a.m. UTC

A newly released transcript from a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) roundtable in June showcased the sometimes passionate discussion around cryptocurrencies within the agency.

At the start of the June 4 roundtable on conduct standards for investment professionals, according to the transcript, SEC official Eric Werner introduced Jay Clayton, who was present at the event and currently serves as chairman of the SEC. Werner is the associate director of enforcement for the SEC's Fort Worth regional office.

In discussing Clayton's work at the agency, Werner highlighted an instance in which he walked into a "heated" discussion between the SEC chairman and an unnamed attorney about cryptocurrency – while also stressing Clayton's commitment to the issue in question.

Werner was quoted as saying:

"In fact, the first time that I met the Chairman, I walked into a heated discussion he was having with an attorney in my office about the legitimacy and viability of cryptocurrencies. I was taken aback, honestly, about how much thought he had given to this space and the issues surrounding that. And what I have learned in the time working with him is that he has given every single issue that he has confronted that same dedication and thought process."

Clayton, whose agency is one of several U.S. regulatory bodies taking a leading role in regulating the industry, particularly around initial coin offerings (ICOs), has remarked publicly on the technology in the past.

Indeed, it was during a hearing in February that Clayton stressed the difference between cryptocurrencies and ICO-derived tokens that are securities.

"I want to go back to separating ICOs and cryptocurrencies. ICOs that are securities offerings, we should regulate them like we regulate securities offerings. End of story," he said at the time.

Jay Clayton image via YouTube/CSPAN

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