Editor’s note: The a16z crypto Regulatory Update is a series that highlights the latest crypto regulation and policy happenings relevant to builders in web3 and crypto, as tracked and curated by the a16z crypto regulatory team. The roundups are based on recent news, the latest updates, new guidance, ongoing legislation, and frameworks released by regulatory agencies/bodies, industry consortia and professional associations, banks, governments, and other entities as they impact the crypto industry (or applications) around the world. We also occasionally include select other resources such as talks, posts, or other commentary – from us or from others – with the updates.
- A federal court granted final approval to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) $2.7 billion settlement with Binance and $150 million settlement with Binance’s former CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao.
- The CFTC approved Bitnomial’s application to launch a derivatives clearing organization, making it the first crypto-native exchange to have acquired a full set of CFTC licenses to operate a derivatives exchange, clearinghouse, and brokerage. Commissioner Kristin N. Johnson supported the Commission’s decision, but called on the CFTC to begin a formal rulemaking process that addresses vertical integration. Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero dissented.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) denied Coinbase’s petition seeking comprehensive crypto rulemaking from the agency. Chair Gary Gensler released a statement supporting the Commission’s decision.
🌽 Commodity Futures Trading Commission
- As mentioned in “tl;dr,” a federal court granted final approval to the CFTC’s $2.7 billion settlement with Binance and $150 million settlement with Binance’s former CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao.
- Also in “tl;dr,” the CFTC approved Bitnomial’s application to launch a derivatives clearing organization, making it the first crypto-native exchange to have acquired a full set of CFTC licenses to operate a derivatives exchange, clearinghouse, and brokerage.
- The House Committee on Energy and Commerce unanimously approved the Deploying American Blockchains Act that directs the Secretary of Commerce to “promote the competitiveness of the United States related to the deployment, use, application, and competitiveness of blockchain technology.”
- Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced the Terrorism Financing Prevention Act, which expands the Department of the Treasury’s sanctions power to cover more terrorist groups, including Hamas.
- House Representative Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said that regulations should not stifle innovation or decentralization, and that he “loves the privacy elements of crypto” but wants to make sure that privacy does not come at the cost of “nefarious use.”
- House Representative and Chair of the House Financial Services Committee Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said that his top priority before he steps down is to pass and enact legislation on crypto, data privacy, and capital formation.
- Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent letters to Coinbase, Blockchain Association, and Coin Center, requesting details on former defense, national security, and law enforcement officials that work in their organizations.
⚖️ Department of Justice
- The founder and majority owner of crypto exchange Bitzlato Ltd. pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business that transported and transmitted illicit funds.
- The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged an Australian national and a California resident with operating a crypto ponzi scheme that allegedly defrauded victims of more than $25 million.
- The DOJ charged three California residents and a resident of Illinois in connection with a scheme to launder the proceeds of crypto-related investment scams and other fraudulent conduct. The overall fraud scheme involved at least 284 transactions and resulted in more than $80 million in victim losses.
💵 Department of the Treasury
- The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division released its annual list of the most prominent cases it investigated in 2023, with four of the top ten cases involving crypto in some capacity.
- CoinList Markets agreed to pay approximately $1.2 million to settle its potential civil liability arising from processing 989 transactions on behalf of users ordinarily resident in Crimea in violation of the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Russia/Ukraine sanctions.
📒 Financial Accounting Standards Board
- The Financial Accounting Standards Board published a standards update that allows corporations to recognize “fair value” changes in crypto holdings.
⚓ Financial Stability Oversight Council
- The Financial Stability Oversight Council’s Annual Report called on agencies to continue enforcing existing rules and regulations applicable to the crypto-asset ecosystem and recommended that Congress pass legislation to provide for the regulation of stablecoins and of the spot market for crypto-assets that are not securities.
🛡️ Government Accountability Office
- The Government Accountability Office published a report on the risks that digital assets pose to economic sanctions implementation and enforcement.
🪙 Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Deputy Comptroller for Compliance Risk Policy Donna Murphy testified that the financial industry’s attention in the digital asset space is shifting to tokenization of assets and liabilities.
- The OCC’s Semiannual Risk Perspective states that the agency “continues to approach crypto-asset products, services, and activities cautiously.”
📈 Securities and Exchange Commission
- As mentioned in “tl;dr,” the SEC denied Coinbase’s petition seeking comprehensive crypto rulemaking from the agency. Chair Gary Gensler released a statement supporting the Commission’s decision.
- BarnBridge DAO and its two founders agreed to pay the SEC more than $1.7 million to settle charges that they failed to register BarnBridge’s offer and sale of structured crypto asset securities known as SMART Yield bonds.
- Prometheum Ember Capital received an expanded license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that will allow it to clear and settle digital asset securities trades.
- The SEC has delayed its decision on the Hashdex Nasdaq Ethereum ETF and the Grayscale Ethereum Futures ETF.
🗽 New York
- Crypto exchange KuCoin agreed to pay approximately $22 million under a consent order with the New York attorney general, admitting that it failed to register as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and unlawfully held itself out as an exchange. KuCoin is also banned from trading securities and commodities in New York and is prohibited from making its platform available to New Yorkers.
- China’s Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) announced that blockchain technology will be used to verify the real-name identities of China’s 1.4 billion people.
- China’s Ministry of Science and Technology said that it will “strengthen collaborative interaction with relevant departments to promote Web3.0 technological innovation and high-quality industrial development.”
🇪🇺 European Union
- The EU issued a new sanctions package that bans Russian nationals from owning, controlling, or holding posts in the governing bodies of entities providing crypto-asset wallet, account, or custody services.
- Coinbase announced that it has secured registration as a Virtual Asset Services Provider in France.
🌍 International Monetary Fund
- International Monetary Fund Head Kristalina Georgieva said that “high crypto asset adoption could undermine macro-financial stability.”
🌐 International Organization of Securities Commissions
- The International Organization of Securities Commissions published nine policy recommendations for decentralized finance markets that are aimed at addressing market integrity and investor protection concerns.
- The Central Bank of Ireland approved Ripple to operate as a Virtual Asset Service Provider.
🇰🇷 South Korea
- South Korea’s Financial Services Commission proposed new rules to protect customers of virtual asset services providers, including rules relating to managing and storing customers’ deposits and virtual assets.
- Bank of Korea Governor Rhee Chang-yong said that the growth of private stablecoins “underscores the urgency for central banks to consider introducing central bank digital currencies, whether retail or wholesale.”
- Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Deputy Governor Chu Mei-lie said that the bank completed a technical study of a wholesale central bank digital currency (CBDC) and is now gathering feedback from the public, government agencies, industry, and academia on improving the design of a CBDC platform.
- Crypto exchange DigiFT announced that it received a Capital Markets Services license and a Recognised Market Operator license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
- A Bank of England report on financial stability said that the growth of asset tokenization could contribute to greater financial stability risks from unbacked crypto assets and stablecoins.
- The UK introduced a new regulation that will allow the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England to operate a Digital Securities Sandbox.
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