US CFTC Chief Promises More ‘Precedent-Setting’ Crypto Enforcement Cases

Commission Chairman Behnam says his agency is gearing up for another year of significant actions in the crypto industry as he tries to ramp up his enforcement staff.

AccessTimeIconFeb 3, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 3, 2023 at 8:36 p.m. UTC

One of the U.S. agencies trying to bolster oversight of cryptocurrency trading, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), is looking toward a big year of crypto enforcement actions, according to Chairman Rostin Behnam.

His agency is “working towards another strong year of precedent-setting cases,” Behnam said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday at an American Bar Association event. He said budget increases at the CFTC will help support “growing our enforcement and surveillance teams.”

“The CFTC has brought important, precedent-setting cases against those who illegally offer derivatives or leveraged, margined or financed digital asset products to US customers or operate within the United States,” he said He promised to use “the full breadth of the commission’s authority” in going after illegal transactions in digital assets.

Already, he said, 20% of the agency’s enforcement cases last year involved digital assets, showing its outsized interest in a sector that represents a tiny sliver of the markets the CFTC oversees.

On that note, Behnam continued his argument that the CFTC should be given authority by Congress to directly oversee trading in tokens that aren’t securities. He said he’ll continue to speak with members of Congress, which started a new session last month, on writing legislation to make that happen.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.