Money and Markets

The SEC doubles crypto enforcement unit as it sees retail investors 'bearing the brunt of abuses'

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The Securities and Exchange Commission.
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  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is boosting the size of its crypto enforcement unit.
  • The agency will add 20 positions to its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit, bringing it to a total of 50.
  • "Crypto markets have exploded in recent years, with retail investors bearing the brunt of abuses in this space," the SEC said.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The Securities and Exchange Commission will add 20 positions to its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit, the agency said in a press release Tuesday.

The additions will bring staffing at the Wall Street regulator's crypto enforcement unit, which was established in 2017, to a total of 50.

"Crypto markets have exploded in recent years, with retail investors bearing the brunt of abuses in this space," SEC Enforcement Director Gurbir Grewal said in a written statement. "The bolstered Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit will be at the forefront of protecting investors and ensuring fair and orderly markets in the face of these critical challenges."

The move comes as digital currencies and assets continue to grow in popularity. Retail firms and Wall Street are increasingly pouring cash into the space, with Fidelity saying last week that it would add bitcoin to its 401(k) retirement funds.

The SEC said it's aiming to rein in the $1.7 trillion cryptocurrency market, and is also investigating fraud related to non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. 

The agency has brought 80 enforcement actions against individuals and agencies related to fraudulent and unregistered crypto assets. So far, it has resolved disputes through cash settlements, although it is currently in the middle of litigation with exchange Binance.  

Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, told Insider via email that the SEC's steps to beef up its enforcement are still well behind the growth of the cryptocurrency market. 

"Crypto watchers have been waiting several months for the SEC to boost their presence regulating cryptos," said. "It seems the crypto unit staff is growing too slow to keep up with all the new projects and fraud that is already happening in the cryptoverse." 

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