The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Coinbase, Inc. 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, since at least 2019, Coinbase has made billions of dollars unlawfully facilitating the buying and selling of crypto asset securities. The SEC alleges 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. Through these unregistered services, Coinbase allegedly: Provides a marketplace and brings together the orders for securities of multiple buyers and sellers using established, non-discretionary methods under which such orders interact; Engages in the business of effecting securities transactions for the accounts of Coinbase customers; and provides facilities for comparison of data respecting the terms of settlement of crypto asset securities transactions, serves as an intermediary in settling transactions in crypto asset securities by Coinbase customers, and acts as a securities depository.
As alleged in the SEC’s complaint, Coinbase’s failure to register has deprived investors of significant protections, including inspection by the SEC, recordkeeping requirements, and safeguards against conflicts of interest, among others.