With Bitcoin ETF Decision Looming, SEC Chair Gensler Says (Again) That Crypto Is Dangerous

While the industry eagerly awaits the U.S. regulator's decision on spot bitcoin ETFs, Gary Gensler is on X warning investors that crypto is rife with scams.

AccessTimeIconJan 8, 2024 at 4:36 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. UTC

The entire crypto world and much of the U.S. financial sector is anxiously awaiting word from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on whether it will approve a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). SEC Chair Gary Gensler has chosen this moment to issue a broad warning about the hazards to investors of getting into digital assets.

Gensler – as he's done many times – posted on X to warn people that the crypto sector is beset by scams and fraud, and that many companies in the space aren't following securities laws.

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"Those offering crypto asset investments/services may not be complying w/ applicable law, including federal securities laws," Gensler posted, advising his followers that there are a number of things to keep in mind about cryptocurrencies. "Fraudsters continue to exploit the rising popularity of crypto assets to lure retail investors into scams," he added in another post.

It's unclear whether Gensler's words represent a final dig before the agency – as many expect – approves ETF applications that are approaching key deadlines. That moment is widely seen as a major turning point, because fully regulated spot ETFs would allow much easier trading of digital assets for even the most casual investor, and some estimates suggest that could mean tens of billions of dollars flowing into the industry.

Of course, whether or not cryptocurrency businesses are properly approaching securities law is a matter still being worked out in a long list of court cases. Gensler's agency has been found by some judges to be on the wrong side of the argument, though the SEC has also chalked up a few wins, including a recent ruling in the Terraform Labs case that the regulator was right about the company improperly pushing unregistered crypto securities.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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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.