SEC Accuses Kraken of Operating Unregistered Platform and Mishandling Customer Funds

  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a lawsuit against Payward, the owner of Kraken, alleging the operation of an unregistered securities exchange.
  • In alignment with previous accusations directed at Binance and Coinbase, the SEC has leveled charges against Kraken, asserting the co-mingling of customer funds.
  • Kraken has firmly refuted the allegations, expressing its commitment to contesting the charges in a court of law.

On Monday, November 20, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) targeted Kraken, the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange, with allegations of operating as an unregistered securities exchange. This move follows previous actions against major players in the crypto industry, including Binance and Coinbase.

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The SEC’s primary charge against Kraken revolves around operating an illegal securities exchange. The commission’s standpoint, considering most cryptocurrencies as securities, implies that all crypto exchanges catering to US customers are in violation of the law.

Critics argue that while the SEC claims jurisdiction over most cryptocurrencies, it fails to provide a clear registration process for exchanges. Kraken’s CEO, David Ripley, contends that the SEC’s charges lack strength due to its failure to offer viable alternatives to crypto exchanges.

Co-mingling of Customer Funds

Beyond the overarching narrative of cryptocurrencies as securities, the SEC’s latest lawsuit accuses Kraken of co-mingling customer funds with its own. This includes allegations of using customer cash for operational expenses, raising concerns in the post-FTX era.

The Commission’s claims extend to crypto assets, suggesting potential mishandling of customer funds. While the SEC’s stance on the legal status of cryptocurrencies faces industry-wide criticism, charges related to fraud or mishandling of funds carry serious implications for investors.

Ripple’s Impact on the SEC’s Narrative

The SEC’s authority over the US crypto sector faced a significant challenge after the court decision in SEC vs. Ripple Labs. The ruling clarified that XRP sales on exchanges do not constitute securities transactions, potentially undermining the legal basis for the SEC’s allegations against Kraken and other exchanges. If the decision withstands potential appeals, it could set a precedent reshaping the regulatory landscape.

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Kraken’s Response

Kraken vehemently denies any wrongdoing, emphasizing its commitment to defending its position in court. The company asserts that the SEC has not alleged any missing customer funds or losses. Kraken contends that the so-called ‘commingling’ is merely the legitimate spending of fees already earned by the platform.

Also Read: Crypto Accountability: SEC’s 2023 Report on Investor Protection

Final Takeaway

As Kraken faces the SEC’s legal scrutiny, the outcome of this case will not only impact the exchange but could also influence the overall regulatory landscape for cryptocurrency in the United States. The industry awaits further developments as legal battles unfold and the SEC continues to go after big crypto players.

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