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News/SEC Sues ConsenSys Over ‘Unregistered Broker Activity,’ Here’s What Experts Say

SEC Sues ConsenSys Over ‘Unregistered Broker Activity,’ Here’s What Experts Say

Van Thanh Le

Jun 29 2024

3 weeks ago3 minutes read
Cubic robot holding scales in a lively courtroom

Crypto Market Shaken by SEC’s Legal Action Against ConsenSys

A new SEC lawsuit targets ConsenSys and its MetaMask wallet, released on June 28, 2024. The SEC accuses ConsenSys of unregistered broker activity through MetaMask's swaps and staking services. The regulator claims the company collected over $250 million in fees from these activities. Gurbir S. Grewal, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, argued that ConsenSys inserted itself into the securities market without providing investor protections mandated by federal law. 

Additionally, the SEC alleges ConsenSys facilitated unregistered securities sales via Lido and Rocket Pool staking programs. Investors supplied ETH and received liquid staking tokens, such as stETH and rETH, representing their interest in the staking pool. The tokens identified as securities include MATICMANACHZSAND, and LUNA, previously flagged in other SEC actions. 

Following the SEC's announcement, Lido DAO (LDO) and Rocket Pool (RPL) tokens suffered significant drops. LDO plummeted from $2.30 to $1.98, a decline of over 15%. RPL fell to $18.89 from over $20, an 8% loss, before recovering. 

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ConsenSys plans to challenge the SEC's regulatory overreach, emphasizing the case's importance for the web3 industry. The company previously sued the SEC over Ethereum regulation and received a Wells notice in April.

Industry experts are divided. Nick Almond, CEO of Factory Labs, criticized the SEC, arguing open-source wallets shouldn’t be forced to register as brokers since users control their assets. Jorge Izquierdo, founder of Tuyo, noted that ConsenSys collecting fees doesn’t change the non-custodial nature of its service. Bill Hughes, ConsenSys Senior Counsel, stressed that the SEC lacks the authority to regulate software interfaces like MetaMask. 

Judge Katherine Failla’s prior dismissal of similar charges against Coinbase Wallet could set a precedent. The judge ruled that self-custody wallets where users control funds aren’t brokers. This lawsuit’s outcome could reshape U.S. crypto regulation, highlighting the ongoing tension between regulatory bodies and the evolving crypto market as major players like ConsenSys and Coinbase seek clarity through legal challenges.

Conclusion

The SEC’s lawsuit against ConsenSys over MetaMask's alleged unregistered broker activities and staking services marks a pivotal moment in crypto regulation. The outcome could significantly influence the future of the crypto market in the U.S., highlighting ongoing tensions between regulatory bodies and blockchain innovators.

FAQs

What are the main allegations against ConsenSys by the SEC?

The SEC accuses ConsenSys of operating as an unregistered broker through MetaMask’s swaps and staking services, collecting over $250 million in fees, and facilitating unregistered securities sales via Lido and Rocket Pool staking programs.

How did the SEC's lawsuit impact the market?

The announcement led to significant drops in the value of Lido DAO (LDO) and Rocket Pool (RPL) tokens, with LDO falling from $2.30 to $1.98 and RPL dropping to $18.89 from over $20.

What is ConsenSys’s defense against the SEC’s accusations?

ConsenSys argues that the SEC is overstepping its regulatory mandate by trying to regulate software interfaces like MetaMask as brokers. The company plans to continue its legal battle in Texas, emphasizing the case's importance for the web3 industry.

What previous legal precedent might influence this case?

U.S. District Judge Katherine Failla previously dismissed similar SEC charges against Coinbase Wallet, ruling that self-custody wallets where users control their funds cannot be considered brokers.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT.

 

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