Elizabeth Warren Praises SEC Chief Gensler, Slams Crypto Lobby

The Massachusetts senator pointed to the regulator's enforcement actions against crypto firms and promoters.

AccessTimeIconJan 26, 2023 at 11:22 a.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2023 at 7:35 p.m. UTC

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) praised the country's securities regulator and its chief Gary Gensler's efforts to police the crypto industry and called for lawmakers to give the watchdog the necessary resources and authority to keep things going.

Gensler, who took charge of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2021, has had to "put the genie back in the bottle and bring the crypto ecosystem into regulatory compliance" after former President Donald Trump's regulators "allowed it to explode," the senator said Wednesday in an interview with the American Economic Liberties Project.

The SEC has worked to protect investors from crypto products and prevented "bitcoin exchange-traded funds from hitting the market," said Warren, who has been a vocal critic of the sectorparticularly of the impact cryptocurrency mining has on the environment. She also praised the commission's enforcement actions against celebrity crypto promoters such as Kim Kardashian and crypto exchanges like Coinbase (COIN) for alleged insider trading.

"And, most importantly, it appears that the commission is still ramping up. That's why the industry is scared of a strong SEC. And that's why it's spending millions of dollars each year lobbying to escape SEC oversight," Warren said.

Warren has also been scrutinizing the collapse of crypto exchange FTX in November, which sent ripples through the industry and prompted regulators to increase their efforts to improve supervision. She has called for FTX's founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, to be held accountable to the "fullest extent of the law."

"The SEC should double down and use its tools to enforce the rules, and where the SEC needs more cops on the beat, then Congress needs to step up with the resources and the new authorities that are needed to make sure the SEC can do its work at full strength in every corner of the crypto market," Warren said.

All U.S. regulators must work together to police the many facets of industry, including its environmental impact from mining activities, she said.

Gensler has been criticized for allegedly holding meetings with Bankman-Fried, who was once Washington D.C.'s crypto darling and – for a time – the face of the crypto lobby. A CoinDesk investigation this month revealed one in three U.S. lawmakers had received donations from FTX before its collapse.

Warren took aim at the crypto lobby instead.

"Shady crypto players are lobbying hard in Washington," Warren said in the interview, adding that the SEC has been "loud and clear" that crypto shouldn't "get a pass" to avoid long-standing securities laws that protect investors and market integrity.

"This is the right approach," she said.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.