Armstrong: Coinbase Preparing to Fight SEC in Court, Might Move HQ From US
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Armstrong: Coinbase Preparing to Fight SEC in Court, Might Move HQ From US

Brian Armstrong recently stated that Coinbase is readying for a lengthy legal battle against the SEC, but expressed some optimism as such a fight could create new case law.
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According to a report from Tuesday, April 18th, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong believes that his company will ultimately have to challenge the SEC in court. Furthermore, the exchange is considering the relocation of its headquarters outside the US as the country is yet to offer regulatory clarity. Armstrong has previously commented positively on recent cryptocurrency-related developments in the UK and the EU.

Coinbase Is Preparing For a Legal Battle Against the SEC

The publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is reportedly preparing for a years-long legal battle against the Securities and Exchange Commission. While the company technically still has nothing to fight as it had only received a relatively vague Wells notice from the agency, it will likely ultimately be forced to defend its long-standing claim that it does not and never has listed securities.

The company’s CEO, Brian Armstrong, also reportedly described the US as a market that may be important for digital assets in the future, but that the current lack of regulatory clarity is seriously damaging its position. As a result, Coinbase is allegedly thinking about moving its headquarters out of the country, and about making more investments abroad.

The comments about a possible legal battle against the SEC come at a time when many in the industry are eying with anticipation the summary judgment in the long-lasting Ripple case. Ripple Labs was sued by the Commission in 2020 for allegedly offering unregistered securities in the form of XRP. Much like that case is expected to set a legal precedent, Armstrong today expressed determination for Coinbase to create new case law and hopefully bring more clarity to the industry.

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US Regulators Accused of Communicating Only Through Enforcement Actions

Along with commenting on the likely legal battle, Armstrong once again pointed out that Coinbase received the Wells notice after more than 30 fruitless meetings with the SEC. There has been a long-standing back and forth between cryptocurrency companies and the Commission where the regulator keeps inviting firms for open discussions, and the companies claim that the SEC is continuously failing to respond even to the most basic inquiries. 

In recent months, the argument took the form of the accusation that the SEC is only willing to communicate through enforcement actions. After the Commission announced its settlement with Kraken, Hester Peirce came out with a statement singling out such behavior and calling it “lazy and paternalistic”. This Monday, after getting sued by the regulator, Bittrex repeated the same point in its response to the development and accused the SEC of being an anti-crypto “crusade”.

While Gary Gensler has repeatedly stated that digital assets are entirely compatible with existing laws, it remains relatively clear that there is a lot of room for improvement. To this effect, the SEC has recently reopened the comment period for its proposed, crypto-centric amendments to the Exchange Act. Furthermore, while the White House has spoken favorably about the regulators’ approach, it has also pointed out that there is a lack of a sufficient legal framework in a document published in January.

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