The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s actions come as both it and the Securities Exchange Commission take a harder look at cryptocurrency trading markets.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission may have just lost one of its most crypto-skeptical commissioners to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s litigation arm, but it is not going easy on digital assets.
The CFTC announced on September 29 that it has charged
12 cryptocurrency derivatives firms for failing to register as futures commission merchants (FCMs) and two more for falsely claiming to have registered with the agency and having membership in the National Futures Association.
The NFA is a self-regulatory body for the derivatives industry. Membership is required for virtually all firms registered with the CFTC. The two firms that the CFTC alleges falsely claimed to be registered are Climax Capital FX and Digitalexchange24.com.
The CFTC’s latest round of charges comes a day after the SEC announced
that it had hired CFTC Commissioner Dan Berkovitz as its general counsel, putting someone who recently said he does not see how unlicensed DeFi markets are legal under the Commodity Exchange Act.
A strong proponent of the role and necessity of the financial intermediaries DeFi seeks to cut out of the industry.
“In a pure 'peer-to-peer' DeFi system, there is no intermediary to monitor markets for fraud and manipulation, prevent money laundering, safeguard deposited funds, ensure counterparty performance, or make customers whole when processes fail.”
The CFTC has taken a more aggressive stance with the cryptocurrency industry recently, fining the BitMEX exchange $100 million on August 10 to settle charges
that it violated anti-money laundering rules of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and Bank Secrecy Act. And on September 27, it fined
the Kraken cryptocurrency exchange for failing to register as an FCM and for margined asset trading violations.
The CFTC regulates futures, options, and other derivatives products, while the SEC oversees the crypto spot markets.
The two agencies have been at loggerheads recently — at least as far as the CFTC is concerned.
On August 4, since-departed CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz took issue
with SEC Chairman Gary Gensler’s call for congress to expand the SEC’s authority over cryptocurrencies, tweeting “just so we’re all clear here, the SEC has no authority over pure commodities or their trading venues, whether those commodities are wheat, gold, oil….or #crypto assets.”