It appears that the US SEC started to tighten its grip on the crypto industry in December 2022.
Robinhood Markets, a trading platform established in 2013 by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, has received a subpoena from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to the 10-K filing shared on February 27th, Robinhood received a subpoena over its crypto operations, including its “cryptocurrency listings, custody of cryptocurrencies, and platform operations.”
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The subpoena was issued just a month after crypto exchange FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and “several other major cryptocurrency trading venues and lending platforms” closed their doors in 2022.
In the filing, Robinhood Markets noted:
In December 2022, following the 2022 Crypto Bankruptcies, we received an investigative subpoena from the SEC regarding, among other topics, RHC’s supported cryptocurrencies, custody of cryptocurrencies, and platform operations.
A subpoena is a legal document issued by the court that orders an entity to either attend a court hearing or submit all requested information.
In a 10-K filing, Robinhood noted that if the court or the US SEC determines that some cryptocurrencies offered by Robinhood are securities, the company will be forced to stop trading them. On top of that, the company may face juridical or administrative sanctions and regulatory penalties.
In 2021, the California Attorney General’s Office issued a similar subpoena, asking Robinhood to provide information about its crypto trading business, operations, coin listings, and custody of customer assets.
The same year, the Massachusetts Securities Division blamed Robinhood crypto arm for targeting inexperienced investors.
It is not the first time SEC has targeted crypto-related firms and claimed that their offered cryptocurrencies are securities. Most recently, US SEC issued a Wells Notice to stablecoin issuer Paxos, claiming that it violated investor protection laws with Binance USD (BUSD) token as it allegedly is an unregistered security.
At the time of writing, Robinhood declined to issue a comment on the subpoena.