Crypto Crackdown Continues As Kraken Gets Targeted By The SEC

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Haider Jamal
November 21,2023

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has initiated legal action against the cryptocurrency exchange known as Kraken. The regulatory agency filed a lawsuit, asserting that Kraken engaged in running an online crypto trading platform without registering with the institution beforehand.

Getting sued

The lawsuit, directed at Payward Inc., which is commonly referred to as Kraken, and Payward Ventures Inc., contends that Kraken operated an online trading platform for buying and selling crypto assets since 2013. The SEC claims that many of these assets were investment contracts under U.S. securities laws.

According to court documents, Kraken functioned as a broker, dealer, exchange, and clearing house for these crypto asset securities without SEC registration. This led to the accumulation of substantial fees and trading revenue, bypassing compliance with U.S. securities laws designed to safeguard investors.

In response to the allegations levied against it, Kraken insists that these claims are baseless and that despite what has been said, the exchange has always prioritized the safety and satisfaction of the customers above all else. Kraken stated that it intends to vigorously defend its position as one of the top exchanges in the United States.

Bad to worse

The SEC further alleges that the aforementioned business practices, inadequate internal controls, and deficient record-keeping pose additional risks. For instance, Kraken reportedly held over $33 billion worth of customer crypto assets at times, commingling them with its own assets, creating a significant risk of loss for customers.

The agency asserts that Kraken also held over $5 billion in cash on behalf of customers, occasionally blending it with its own cash. Notably, Kraken allegedly covered operational expenses directly via bank accounts containing customer cash.

In addition, the legal case is grounded in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, enacted to regulate national securities markets. The SEC contends that the activities of Kraken fall within the purview of U.S. securities laws due to its operation of a platform where crypto assets are offered and sold as investment contracts.







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May 29,2024

Judge Forces United States SEC To Pay $1.8 Million To Debt Box

A federal judge has mandated that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cover approximately $1.8 million in attorney and receivership fees linked to the civil case against Digital Licensing, the entity operating as Debt Box.

 

SEC Forced To Cover Damages

In a filing on May 28th in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Judge Robert Shelby approved an order requiring the SEC to pay about $1 million for attorney fees and costs, along with $750,000 for receiver fees and costs. This directive coincided with the dismissal of the case on the same day, albeit without prejudice.

The judge referenced a ruling in March, wherein a court determined that the SEC had conducted itself in bad faith concerning a temporary restraining order to freeze all assets linked to Debt Box. Subsequently, the firm submitted documents to the court asserting inaccuracies in the information presented by the commission, prompting the potential for sanctions.

The penalties imposed on the SEC mandated the commission to shoulder all attorney fees and costs arising via the improvidently entered ex parte relief. Judge Shelby essentially affirmed that all expenses requested by the defendants were appropriate, excluding a $649 fee.

 

Regulatory Overreach

The lawsuit against Debt Box in July 2023 accused the company of orchestrating an illicit $50 million crypto scheme. Given the documents presented by the company suggesting inaccuracies and misrepresentations by the commission in seeking a temporary restraining order, many in the crypto community have cited it as a case of regulatory overreach.

The commission is embroiled in ongoing legal battles with several crypto entities, including Binance, Kraken, Ripple, and Coinbase. Numerous lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have advocated for regulatory clarity at the SEC concerning digital assets through legislation such as the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act.

 

May 29,2024

Meme Coin Made By ChatGPT Surges Over 2,000% In 3 Months

A meme coin conceived through the application of ChatGPT has seen a remarkable surge in value, obtaining a valuation of $638 million within a mere three months. Dubbed Turbo, this meme coin was crafted by digital artist Rhett Mankind, who employed GPT-4 to devise the concept, tokenomics, and smart contract. Originating with a modest budget of $69, the project has blossomed into a prominent meme coin within the crypto realm.

On May 28th, Turbo experienced an unprecedented price surge, hitting an all-time high of $0.009302, propelling its market capitalization to approximately $638 million, as per CoinGecko. Over the last three months, its market capitalization has surged to over $600 million, marking a staggering 2,262% increase.

 

Meme Coins Keep Coming

Mankind chronicled the development journey on X, engaging the community through polls to decide on various factors such as the name for the project and its mascot. This community-centric approach, coupled with the clever utilization of cutting-edge AI technology, has contributed to overall investor appeal.

Moreover, the triumph of Turbo mirrors a broader trend in the cryptocurrency sphere, where meme coins are rapidly gaining traction. Following a period of subdued activity, the meme coin market is now thriving, with coins like CorgiAI (CORGIAI), Turbo (TURBO), and Grok (GROK) garnering attention.

These AI-fueled meme coins have garnered significant popularity, with investors eyeing them to diversify their portfolios and potentially secure substantial returns.

 

A Community-Centric Approach

The enthusiasm within the meme coin sector has undoubtedly played a role in Turbo becoming a success. Its community-driven ethos, innovative AI integration, and transparent distribution model have resonated with investors. Data by Santiment indicates a surge in social volume, signaling heightened retail interest. Social metrics often peak prior to a trend reversal, underscoring the importance of monitoring such indicators.

On May 28th, Coinglass data revealed that four of the top ten tokens with the highest open interest (OI) in the crypto leverage market were meme coins.

An expanding OI suggests bullish momentum in the market, as leverage traders initiate more contracts in anticipation of price movement. Turbo is traded across multiple exchanges, including Gate.io, MEXC, and OKX, boasting robust liquidity and trading volumes. Nevertheless, investors should remain cognizant of the associated risks. The hype surrounding meme coins can wane, potentially resulting in significant losses when demand diminishes.

 

May 28,2024

Crypto Conversions Blocked For South Korean Universities

Financial regulators in South Korea have enacted measures preventing universities when it comes to setting up corporate accounts for cryptocurrency transactions. Consequently, universities face challenges converting crypto donations by specific crypto firms into fiat currency.

According to local news source Chosun Ilbo, authorities express concerns that corporate accounts, unlike individual ones with verified identities, could be exploited for money laundering due to the absence of personal authentication.

 

Tension And Friction

The Korean Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU) and the Ministry of Education are anticipated to maintain their stance against universities establishing corporate accounts for crypto transactions. This decision follows various requests made by multiple local universities to establish corporate accounts for cash conversion subsequent to receiving substantial cryptocurrency donations.

A senior official representing the financial authorities rationalized the decision, stating that granting universities exceptions would be unjust to other businesses. Moreover, enabling such accounts for all corporations would pose significant money laundering risks.

 

A Silver Lining

Local regulators and the South Korean Ministry of Education plan to discourage universities regarding the acceptance of such donations going forward. Nevertheless, they may offer support to universities already in possession of such donations.

Depending on various factors including the amount involved, there is consideration for establishing a mechanism to convert existing crypto holdings into fiat currency. This indicates a potential remedy for universities grappling with previously received cryptocurrency donations.

South Korea has also recently implemented a ban on cryptocurrency donations, affecting charities and potentially impeding their fundraising endeavors. This move comes despite the growing popularity of Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital currencies in the country.

 

May 28,2024

Swift Payments Update Causes LINK To Surge Over 10%

U.S. financial markets paused for Memorial Day, leading to a relatively quiet beginning to the week for most crypto markets. However, Chainlink (LINK), the 14th largest cryptocurrency by market cap, experienced significant growth after surging more than 10% in the past day, reaching a trading price of $18.75.

 

The Reason Behind The Surge

Chainlink focuses on providing decentralized oracle services. Oracles act as bridges between blockchain-based smart contracts and external data sources. They allow smart contracts to interact with real-world data, enabling a wide range of use cases such as DeFi, insurance, gaming, and supply chain management.

LINK serves as the native token for Chainlink, an oracle project operating on Ethereum, facilitating secure information transfer within and between blockchains. This surge is likely attributed to optimism among LINK holders and supporters following the announcement that Chainlink would be co-presenting with Swift, an international payments platform, at the recent Consensys conference in Austin, Texas.

 

Still A Ways To Go

The Chainlink network consists of nodes that retrieve data via off-chain sources, such as APIs, and deliver it securely to smart contracts on various blockchain platforms, including Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, and others. This process ensures the reliability and accuracy of data inputs, crucial for the execution of smart contracts.

The aforementioned collaboration, initiated last fall, demonstrates the integration of existing infrastructure with blockchain technology. Sergey Nazarov, co-founder of the Chainlink project, expressed optimism for Ethereum and digital assets following the recent approval of Ethereum exchange-traded funds (ETFs), indicating a broader trend towards tokenization.

The recent successes of Chainlink include progress across nine different blockchains and its involvement in a tokenization pilot with DTCC, JP Morgan, and BNY Mellon. Despite these achievements, LINK still has a significant distance to cover, with a more than 64% climb needed to reach its 2021 all-time high of $52.70.

 

May 27,2024

Craig Wright Finally Defeated As BTC White Paper Back Where It Belongs

As of May 27th, 2024, the Bitcoin (BTC) white paper has been reposted on the Bitcoin.org website subsequent to Craig Wright unsuccessfully trying to establish himself as Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of the protocol. In 2021, Wright successfully sued Cobra, the anonymous group overseeing the website, for copyright infringement, resulting in the removal of the white paper PDF.

 

The Context

Hennadii Stepanov, the maintainer of Bitcoin.org, declared the reinstatement of the Bitcoin white paper by providing a link to the PDF on X. Due to legal constraints, Bitcoin.org had to limit access to the white paper for users based in the UK. Instead, it showcased a significant quote by Satoshi Nakamoto, which read that it takes advantage of the nature of information being easy to spread but hard to stifle.

Wright achieving legal victory in 2021 stemmed via his lawsuit against Cobra, the anonymous entity managing the website, for copyright infringement, which led to the removal of the white paper PDF. Wright prevailed by default as Cobra opted not to contest the case, resulting in Cobra paying £35,000 to Wright in legal fees. Wright had applied for U.S. copyright registration for the Bitcoin white paper in 2019.

In 2023, Wright initiated legal action against 13 Bitcoin Core developers and various companies, including Blockstream, Coinbase, and Block, for copyright infringements concerning the Bitcoin white paper, its file format, and database rights to the Bitcoin blockchain.

 

Justice Prevails

The Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund reacted, highlighting the pattern of abusive lawsuits against notable Bitcoin contributors. According to the defense fund, these lawsuits discourage development due to the associated time, stress, expenses, and legal risks.

However, the aforementioned copyright victory is now nullified, as his assertions of being Satoshi Nakamoto and the author of the white paper have been definitively debunked. The comprehensive ruling was issued in a case brought against Wright by the Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA), a coalition of prominent companies. COPA alleged that Wright engaged in an intricate scheme of forgery and deceit to fabricate evidence supporting his claim of being Nakamoto.

As a result, all of his assets, valued at $8.4 million, were frozen. The Bitcoin white paper is now subject to an MIT open-source license, permitting anyone to reuse and modify the code for any purpose.

 

May 27,2024

Multiple X Accounts Hacked As Fake Posts Promote Meme Coins

Over the weekend, a series of hacks affected several X accounts owned by crypto influencers and celebrities, leading to the promotion of various coins and resulting in temporary price increases.

One of the main targets was GCR, whose account was breached on May 26th. Following the breach, the hacker posted promotional content for ORDI and Luna2.0, causing brief price surges of 6% and 274% for the tokens. Observers remarked that instead of promoting a lesser-known microcap coin for potentially higher gains, the hacker opted for ORDI, which already boasts a market cap of $856 million.

 

Not Isolated

Udi Wertheimer, a Bitcoin developer and supporter of Ordinals, cautioned that the GCR incident might not be an isolated occurrence. It seems to be part of a wider campaign targeting celebrity X accounts, including mumble rapper Rich the Kid and media personality Caitlyn Jenner.

For Rich the Kid, a new token named $RICH appeared on the Solana meme coin creation platform pump.fun. Despite no official confirmation by Rich the Kid or their management team, the post has been removed. The current market cap for this coin remains stagnant at $144K, according to data by dexscreener.

 

Conspiracy Looms

Concerning the Jenner account, a meme coin dubbed $JENNER was also advertised, raising the market capitalization of the coin to $25 million, based on aggregated data by Raydium and GeckoTerminal.

Despite several videos by Jenner reassuring followers of the authentic posts, many industry experts suspect the account has been compromised. Intriguingly, the crypto wallet address shared by Jenner matches the one used by adult content creator Kazumi, whose account was hacked on May 20th to promote the ZUMI coin.

As of this writing, no information about the identity of the threat actor has been disclosed, and no particular entity has claimed responsibility for the hacks. Whether these incidents are connected or the work of a single hacker or group remains undetermined.

 

May 27,2024

Web3 Fundraising Deals - 21st To 27th May, 2024

LayerEdge: Embarking on its journey with a promising Pre-Seed stage, LayerEdge secured support from the esteemed Blockchain Founders Fund, setting the stage for future growth and innovation.

 

 

MetaLeX: Stepping into the Seed stage with a remarkable $2.75M raise, MetaLeX, led by Adam Cochran and endorsed by Jake Brukhman, is poised for success with backing from cyber Fund.

 

 

Cysic: With an impressive $12.00M raise in the Pre-Series A phase, Cysic, endorsed by Mario Laul and CJ the "Doughnut", is charting a path towards pioneering cybersecurity solutions, supported by HashKey Capital.

 

 

Ather Digital: Recent activity saw Ather Digital making strategic moves, indicating exciting developments in the digital finance realm.

 

 

Unlockit: Making waves in the Pre-Seed stage with a $1.52M raise, Unlockit, endorsed by Sandeep Agg, gained support from Eaglestone Group, signaling bright prospects in unlocking digital potentials.

 

 

Alphaledger: Securing a substantial $9.50M in Series A funding, Alphaledger, endorsed by Maya Zehavi and HTX, is poised to drive innovation forward with backing from EJF Capital.

 

 

Plume Network: Positioned for growth in the Seed stage with a $10.00M raise, Plume Network, supported by Haun Ventures and endorsed by The Crypto Dog and Michael Arrington, is set to revolutionize the digital space.

 

May 26,2024

Ethereum Dominates Headlines As Bitcoin Dips Below $70K

It has been a whirlwind week in the crypto realm, with PEPE stealing the spotlight by smashing its previous records multiple times. Meanwhile, Bitcoin (BTC) took us on a rollercoaster ride, dipping below $66,500 only to bounce back and soar past $69,000 in a thrilling overnight surge. The highest recorded price for BTC during the last seven days was just below $71,500.

 

Altcoin Season

In the midst of all this, the cryptocurrency world was abuzz with the news by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, particularly affecting Ethereum. The recent green light for eight Ethereum ETFs sent ETH on a rocket ride to over $3,900 mid-week, settling at a tantalizing $3,750.

PEPE was also not the only one experiencing a surge, as various other altcoins saw substantial gains. UNI, in particular, stole the spotlight with its impressive 20% leap, edging closer to $11. Other players like XRP, DOGE, TON, SHIB, DOT, IMX, and NEAR all made waves in the green sea. Currently, Bitcoin commands a market cap of $1.350 trillion and maintains its dominance over altcoins at 50.2%.

In the world of stocks, the NASDAQ Composite Index stands at 16,920.80, with a gain of 184.77 points or 1.10% as of 10:00 AM. The NASDAQ-100 is at 18,808.35, up by 184.96 points or 0.99% at the same time. The Dow Industrials are at 39,069.59, showing a minimal increase of 4.33 points or 0.01%. The S&P 500 is at 5,304.72, marking a rise of 36.88 points or 0.7%. The Russell 2000 is at 2,069.66, up by 21.25 points or 1.04%, while the Russell 1000 stands at 2,899.86, showing a gain of 20.16 points or 0.7%. In commodities, the Gold June 2024 futures are at 2,334.50, indicating a slight decrease of 2.70 points or 0.12%.

 

Other Markets

As the Indian election unfolds, the local markets brace for a potential selloff amidst uncertainty surrounding electoral objectives. Meanwhile, the Fed observes a cooling trend in its favored underlying inflation gauge. In the financial realm, bets on risky Collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs) are yielding significant gains, as noted in the latest Credit Weekly report. Economist Paul Krugman warns that investors harboring confidence in interest rates may be deceiving themselves.

Elsewhere, Chinese companies push for a dumping probe into EU pork imports, while the Philippines prepares for its first storm of the year, inching closer to the capital. Corporate shifts are also underway, with BP Southern Africa and Shell Downstream poised to divest refinery assets, and Millennium allegedly urging Weiss to trim staff and shed clients during negotiations.

Additionally, Trafigura finds itself in a standoff with aluminum bulls over a substantial metal stash, while concerns arise in Shanghai as the pork price surge poses inflation risks. While China investigates a state tobacco official, Turkish state lenders intervene to support the lira following a significant drop. Amidst these market fluctuations, the U.S. imposes restrictions on some Australian poultry imports due to concerns over avian flu.

May 25,2024

Woman Who Laundered 150 BTC Sentenced To Jail By UK Court

A woman has been sentenced by the Southwark Crown Court in London, UK, to nearly seven years in jail for her involvement in a money laundering scheme involving Bitcoin. She allegedly knowingly took part in a billion-dollar investment scam.

 

More Than Meets The Eye

Jian Wen, formerly employed in fast food, received a sentence of six years and eight months for her role in laundering substantial amounts of Bitcoin (BTC) associated with a $6.4 billion fraud in China. The trial found her guilty of laundering funds tied to approximately 150 Bitcoin for a Chinese individual between 2017 and 2022. Authorities seized over 61,000 BTC worth more than $4 billion.

During the sentencing, Judge Sally-Ann Hales emphasized the sophistication of the offense, stating that Wen knew the nature of her actions. Despite holding British and Chinese citizenship, Wen denied the allegations and is appealing her conviction, portraying herself as a victim manipulated by another individual.

However, prosecutors argued that Wen acted out of greed, playing a significant role in managing the crypto wallet linked to the laundering operation. They described her as a front person facilitating the conversion of stolen funds into Bitcoin and back into cash.

 

A Crime Of Ignorance

Wen maintained her innocence, claiming she was striving for a better life for her son and denying knowledge of the criminal origins of the Bitcoin in question. Yet, she was found guilty of one count of money laundering in March, while two other counts resulted in a hung jury.

Judge Hales stressed that while there was no evidence linking Wen to the initial fraud, she was aware of handling criminal proceeds. Wen was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison for a single count of money laundering.

Regarding broader regulations, the EU recently passed an anti-money laundering regulation targeting crypto-asset service providers (CASPs). The regulation aims to empower Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) to detect and combat money laundering and terrorist financing, introducing enhanced due diligence measures and oversight through a new supervisory body, AMLA.

 

May 24,2024

Polygon CEO Lambasts Meme Coin Critics Despite Rumors Of Manipulation

The playful and entertaining essence of meme coins often finds inspiration in various sources, including the pets of influential individuals. A notable instance is Floki Inu (FLOKI), which drew inspiration via Shiba Inu (SHIB) which shares the same name.

 

Right To Personal Enjoyment

The meme coin market has seen a resurgence, particularly on the Polygon (MATIC) network, where this trend has gained traction. However, it has stirred controversy amid allegations of insider manipulation, with accusations of pumping and dumping tokens within the community.

Recent events have intensified tensions within the community, notably when Polygon (MATIC) Labs CEO Marc Boiron openly supported a new meme coin inspired by his own dog. The response by Boiron to critics has been defiant, asserting his right to enjoy himself without external judgment. Despite his stance, criticism persists within the community, with some members expressing skepticism about the timing and motives behind his involvement with the NIGHT meme coin community.

 

Divided We Stand

The controversy surrounding the Polygon Labs team is a result of their association with ELE meme coin, allegedly inspired by a pet elephant owned by Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal. Accusations have emerged, implicating several Polygon Labs insiders in promoting the project while exploiting developers and engaging in dubious practices.

While the actions of Boiron with NIGHT mirror those of Nailwal with ELE, Polygon Labs has yet to address the allegations or respond to inquiries regarding these accusations. In any case, the fallout due to the controversy has raised doubts about the integrity of the Polygon Labs team, especially given the drastic decline in the value of ELE since its inception. The community remains divided, with uncertainty lingering over the validity of the allegations against Polygon Labs.

 

May 24,2024

BlackRock ETH ETF Officially Listed On DTCC Website

The BlackRock Ethereum ETF, known as $ETHA, has reportedly been listed on the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), following approval by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The move comes shortly after the SEC approved several spot Ether ETFs.

 

Key Details

The SEC has also greenlit eight other spot Ethereum exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These ETFs, proposed by various entities including VanEck, Fidelity, Franklin, Grayscale, Bitwise, ARK Invest & 21Shares, Invesco & Galaxy, and the BlackRock iShares Ethereum Trust, are slated for listing on Nasdaq, NYSE Arca, and the Cboe BZX Exchange.

However, it is important to note that trading will not begin immediately, as this largelyt depends on the S-1 filing approval for each of the ETFs. This approval process could take weeks to several months, depending on numerous factors and changing circumstances.

 

Time For Ether

Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart noted that while the 19b-4 approval is certainly a significant step in the right direction, trading will not start until the SEC approves the S-1 documents as previously mentioned, a process that is notorious for being plagued with multiple delays.

Thus far, the SEC has initiated discussions with ETF issuers regarding the S-1 forms, with Seyffart estimating a potential five-month approval timeline. Following initial approval by the SEC, VanEck swiftly submitted an amended S-1 form. Additionally, the firm released a brief advertisement celebrating the approval, encouraging viewers to Enter the Ether.

 

May 23,2024

Crypto Legal Clarity Will Be Provided After FIT21 Bill Passes With Two Thirds Majority

Legislation known as the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT21) was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, offering much-needed legal clarity on the classification, registration, and custody of crypto assets.

FIT21 received overwhelming support by Republicans and garnered 71 additional votes via Democrats, resulting in a final count of 279 yes to 136 no. The proponents of the bill aim to put an end to the approach by the SEC in terms of regulating the crypto industry through enforcement actions.

 

A Step In The Right Direction

Regarded as a significant step in crypto regulation, industry leaders hailed the bill as a crucial move towards establishing clear rules for digital asset trading and registration. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong lauded the legislation on X, emphasizing the importance of protecting consumer rights in using crypto and ensuring regulatory clarity to prevent misuse.

According to Representative French Hill (R-AR), the bill introduces an interim oversight mechanism for digital asset firms to file a notice of intent to register with federal regulators while regulatory responsibilities are being sorted out. Hill stressed that the main focus of the bill will be on stringent consumer protections to prevent incidents like the collapse of FTX. Moreover, the legislation aims to delineate which digital assets fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC and the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), resolving long-standing disputes over regulatory authority.

 

A Mixed Bag For Democrats

Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee expressed concerns that the bill would favor wealthy crypto firms avoiding SEC registration at the expense of ordinary investors. SEC Chairman Gary Gensler criticized the bill, arguing that existing laws are sufficient for crypto regulation and that the industry needs to comply with them rather than seeking further regulatory clarity.

Despite some opposition, a considerable number of Democrats supported the bill, emphasizing its importance in keeping the nation competitive in crypto regulation. The Biden administration initially opposed FIT21 but expressed willingness to collaborate with Congress on a comprehensive regulatory framework for digital assets.

It is also worth mentioning that, unlike recent crypto banking legislation, the administration did not indicate plans to veto FIT21, which passed the House with bipartisan support.