The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is asking publicly-traded companies to tell investors about their involvement with struggling cryptocurrency firms (via CNBC). In a notice posted on Thursday, the SEC says companies may have an obligation under federal law to disclose whether their operations or finances have been impacted by the turbulence that’s rocking the crypto market.
The move comes after FTX’s collapse sent ripples across the entire crypto industry and revealed a network of creditors to which FTX owes billions. While the lending arm of Genesis, a major crypto brokerage, suspended withdrawals in the aftermath of FTX’s fall, the crypto trading platform BlockFi filed for bankruptcy and lists FTX as one of its largest creditors.
The SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance — the branch that ensures companies disclose necessary information to investors — issued the guidance, which is supposed to help companies prepare disclosure documents. It doesn’t formally introduce new disclosure requirements, but the set of recommendations is a sign that the regulator’s keeping a closer eye on crypto.
As noted in the sample letter, the SEC says companies should discuss whether they’ve been exposed to crypto firms that have filed for bankruptcy, suspended withdrawals, or experienced an excessive amount of withdrawals. It also asks companies to outline the steps they’re taking to secure customers’ crypto assets, as well as whether the disruption in the crypto market has caused them “reputational harm.”
The SEC has come under fire for its handling of crypto regulation, with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) telling the agency to “suit up” following the implosion of FTX last month, adding that the SEC has “fallen far behind” when it comes to cracking down on crypto fraud. On Wednesday, SEC Chair Gary Gensler defended the agency’s work during an interview with Yahoo Finance, stating that the SEC is “already suited up” and that it has taken 100 enforcement actions against crypto firms.