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Paradigm Advisor Criticizes SEC's Overreach in Bittrex Case, Calls for Regulatory Clarity in Cryptocurrency Market

Rodrigo Seira questions SEC's jurisdiction and the use of the Howey Test, highlighting industry concerns

Wed, 12 Jul 2023, 03:50 am UTC

In a major development within the cryptocurrency arena, Rodrigo Seira, a special legal advisor for investment powerhouse Paradigm, publicly censured the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for what he perceives as an overstep of their mandate in the Bittrex case.

Seira condemned the SEC's pursuit of Bittrex, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, asserting that their actions lack sufficient justification. Expressing his concerns through a series of tweets on July 11, following Paradigm's submission of an amicus brief to the SEC, Seira focused on the SEC's use of the Howey Test to make their case, which he deems unreasonable.

Central to Seira's argument is the Howey Test, a criterion used to determine if a transaction qualifies as an "investment contract." He argues that this evaluation method is unsuitable for the digital-assets sector, as it does not involve traditional investment contracts. Consequently, Seira contends that the SEC has no legitimate jurisdiction over these markets.

In a blog post dated July 7, Seira underscored the SEC's inadequate jurisdiction in the digital-assets market, citing SEC Chair Gary Gensler's admission that the current regulatory framework is insufficient for cryptocurrency exchanges.

Seira's perspective reflects a broader concern within the industry regarding the lack of clarity and support from regulators. According to Seira, the industry remains "stuck in limbo." Coinbase, another prominent cryptocurrency company, has also called on the SEC to establish a robust rule-making process. Without clear regulations, crypto firms find themselves in a regulatory gray area with no effective means of compliance.

The controversy commenced when the SEC lodged a complaint against Bittrex on April 17. In response, Bittrex voluntarily relinquished its Florida money transmitter license on April 30 and subsequently declared bankruptcy on May 8.

This incident marks not the first time Paradigm has come to the defense of a cryptocurrency entity facing legal challenges from the SEC. On May 11, Paradigm submitted an amicus brief in support of Coinbase, which argued that the SEC had failed to establish clear regulations for digital asset firms.

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