SEC’s crypto-related penalties hit $2.6 billion in 2022

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SEC’s crypto-related penalties hit $2.6 billion in 2022

By Benson Toti - min read
  • The SEC’s first crypto-related enforcement action was in July 2013.
  • The agency has brought 127 such actions since, with 30 of these in 2022 representing a 50% increase from 2021.
  • The monetary penalties across the settlements with the regulator reached $2.61 billion by the end of last year.

According to a recent report by Cornerstone Research, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has overseen 127 crypto-related enforcement actions since 2013. 82 of the actions so far have been litigations and 45 of them administrative proceedings.

SEC crypto-related fines hit $2.6 billion by 2022

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently come under heavy criticism after cryptocurrency exchange FTX collapsed. For the most part, many have questioned the regulatory watchdog’s tendency to swing into action after events that see the ordinary public suffer huge losses in the market.

And no doubt, the SEC swiftly charged former FTX CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried following his arrest. Also charged were Alameda’s Caroline Ellison and FTX’s Gary Wang. Just a few days ago, as we highlighted, the agency filed charges against crypto platforms Gemini and Genesis.

It’s a pattern that falls in line with what has been labelled as “regulation by enforcement.”

Indeed, even as the crypto market navigates the crypto winter, regulatory clarity remains a long way off. However, enforcement actions have increased rapidly since the SEC’s first such move in July 2013.

In 2022, the securities market watchdog filed 30 enforcement actions touching on 79 market participants, including the February charge against crypto lender BlockFi.

Per the Cornerstone Research report, the enforcement actions in 2022 were against 56 individuals representing 71% of the allegations and 23 were against firms (29% of the actions). The total enforcement actions over the past year was double the actions filed in 2021, the report noted.

In terms of monetary penalties, settlements with the agency hit $242 million in 2022 – with the total fines since 2013 amounting to $2.61 billion as of 31 December 2022. As CoinJournal reported in October, the SEC fines include the $1.3 million levelled against celebrity Kim Kardashian for her promotion of the crypto project EthereumMax.