July 25, 2022: -Coinbase pushed back on claims from the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is offering unregistered securities after fraud charges against a former employee at the company.
On Thursday, an ex-Coinbase product manager and two other individuals were charged with wire fraud in connection with an insider trading scheme that includes cryptocurrencies. The case is the initial of its kind.
U.S. prosecutors are accusing the individuals of plotting to profit from listing new tokens on the Coinbase platform before they were publicly announced.
In a separate Thursday complaint, the SEC said that nine of the 25 tokens allegedly traded in the scheme were securities.
Coinbase’s chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, denied Thursday’s claims in a blog post titled “Coinbase does not list securities. End of story.”
“Seven of the nine assets involved in the SEC’s charges are listed on Coinbase’s platform,” Grewal added in the blog post.
“Coinbase has a huge process to analyze and review each digital asset before making it available on our exchange, a process that the SEC has reviewed,” Grewal added.
Whether a few cryptocurrencies should be considered securities is a contentious matter that has flustered regulators and crypto firms.
Ripple, a San Francisco-based blockchain firm, is presently fighting a lawsuit from the SEC, which claims XRP, a cryptocurrency closely associated with, should be as secure.
It goes back to a notable Supreme Court case called the Howey Test, deeming an asset as a security if it meets specific criteria. According to the SEC, security is “an investment of money, in an enterprise, with the expectation of profit derived from the efforts of others.”
The position of the SEC is enormous as it means Coinbase may be forced to justify a few of the cryptocurrencies it offers as regulated financial instruments.
Listing securities that include shares in a company with rigorous disclosure and registration requirements.
Cryptocurrencies are unregulated and therefore do not come with a similar level of scrutiny.
Coinbase is more conservative with its token listing framework than a few other exchanges. Binance and FTX offer over 300 coins, while Coinbase lists just over 200, according to CoinGecko data.