A day after suing crypto exchange Binance, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday charged Coinbase with operating its crypto asset trading platform as an unregistered national securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency.
The SEC also charged Coinbase for failing to register the offer and sale of its crypto asset staking-as-a-service program.
According to the SEC’s complaint, Coinbase has made billions of dollars unlawfully facilitating the buying and selling of crypto asset securities.
“We allege that Coinbase, despite being subject to the securities laws, commingled and unlawfully offered exchange, broker-dealer, and clearinghouse functions,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler.
According to the complaint, Coinbase’s alleged failures deprive investors of critical protections, including rulebooks that prevent fraud and manipulation, proper disclosure, safeguards against conflicts of interest, and routine inspection by the SEC.
The SEC alleged that Coinbase intertwines the traditional services of an exchange, broker, and clearing agency without having registered any of those functions with the Commission as required by law.
The SEC alleged that, since 2019, Coinbase has been engaging in an unregistered securities offering through its staking-as-a-service programme, which allows customers to earn profits from the “proof of stake” mechanisms of certain blockchains and Coinbase’s efforts.
“While Coinbase’s calculated decisions may have allowed it to earn billions, it’s done so at the expense of investors by depriving them of the protections to which they are entitled. The action seeks to hold Coinbase accountable for its choices,” said Gurbir S Grewal, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
On Monday, the SEC sued leading crypto exchange Binance, its CEO Changpeng Zhao and BAM Trading and BAM Management over allegedly mishandling funds and lying to regulators.
In a federal lawsuit, the regulator filed 13 charges against the defendants.
“Defendants unlawfully solicited US investors to buy, sell, and trade crypto asset securities through unregistered trading platforms available online at binance.com and Binance.US,” the lawsuit read.