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Crypto Wells Notice Recipients 2024: Full List of Entities in SEC Crosshairs

Last Updated May 14, 2024 9:47 AM
James Morales
Last Updated May 14, 2024 9:47 AM

3 Key Takeaways

  • The SEC has initiated legal proceedings against six crypto firms this year.
  • It has issued a further 4 with Wells notices warning that they are under investigation.
  • However, the regulator’s enforcement actions have slowed since last year.

So far in 2024, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has instigated legal action against six digital asset businesses. It has issued Wells notices to a further 4 warning that they are under investigation.

Three lawsuits and the four Wells notices allege unregistered securities offerings. The remaining charges leveled against crypto firms relate to securities fraud.

Seven Companies Accused of Unregistered Securities Offering/Trading

Since 2020, the SEC has filed more than 40 complaints and cease-and-desist proceedings based on its claim that crypto assets are securities.

Such charges can generally be divided into two categories: those related to offering unregistered securities and those related to operating an unlicensed securities exchange. 

Table showing SEC enforcement actions against crypto firms in 2024

The first case in 2024 involved TradeStation, which the SEC accused of failing to register the offer and sale of a crypto lending product it described as a security. TradeStation agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty to settle the charges.

Then, in March, the crypto trading platform ShapeShift was fined $275,000 for acting as an unregistered dealer.

Since then, the Commission has issued 3 of the biggest names in crypto with Wells notices, indicating that Uniswap, Consensys and Robinhood could be charged next. 

A Wells notice is the SEC’s way of informing a company that it is being investigated. However, the regulator isn’t obliged to warn firms before it brings charges. And in cases where fraud is suspected, it tends not to.

While they are a fairly good indicator of upcoming litigation, recipients of Wells notices aren’t obliged to disclose them. There is therefore always the chance that other crypto firms are in the SEC’s crosshairs but have chosen not to publicize the fact.

Uniswap, Consensys and Robinhood have all asserted their innocence, arguing that the assets named by the SEC are not securities. Following a precedent established by Coinbase, Consensys has even countersued the regulator.

Building on 2023’s Bumper Crop of Litigation

Although the SEC has been busy investigating the crypto sector in 2024, it will be difficult to top last year’s enforcement actions.

In 2023, the regulator filed lawsuits against 31 crypto firms it accused of violating US securities law. 

Some of the most high-profile cases involve actions brought against crypto exchanges, including Beaxy, Bittrex, Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken. Meanwhile, litigation targeting Gemini, Nexo and Celsius centers on crypto lending products.

Enforcement Action
BarnBridge DAO 12/22/2023 Paid $125,000 fine Settlement Agreed
Kraken 11/20/2023 Aserted that cryptocurrencies are not securities Charges Filed
Safemoon 11/1/2023 Founders arrested Charges Filed
CoinDeal 9/20/2023 & 1/4/2023 Michael Glaspie sentenced to 6 years in prison Charges Filed
James Michael Wines 9/20/2023 None Charges Filed
Lufkin Advisors 9/19/2023 None Charges Filed
Stoner Cats 9/13/2023 Paid $1 million.fine Settlement Agreed
Linus Financial 9/7/2023 Agreed to a cease-and-desist order Settlement Agreed
Jeremy Koski 9/1/2023 None Charges Filed
Impact Theory 8/28/2023 $6.1 million Settlement Agreed
Bazar 8/23/2023 None Charges Filed
Stemy Coin 8/17/2023 None Charges Filed
PulseChain 7/31/2023 Motion to dismiss Charges Filed
Celsius 7/13/2023 None Charges Filed
Coinbase 6/6/2023 Countersued Charges Filed
Binance 6/5/2023 Motion to dismiss Charges Filed
Coinme 4/28/2023 Paid $3.92 million fine Settlement Agreed
Bittrex 4/17/2023 Motion to dismiss Charges Filed
Beaxy 3/29/2023 Exchange shut down Charges Filed
Justin Sun et al 3/22/2023 Motion to dismiss Charges Filed
Green United 3/8/2023 Motion to dismiss Charges Filed
Nishad Singh (FTX Engineer) 2/28/2023 Cooperated with investigation Charges Filed
BKCoin Management 2/23/2023 None Charges Filed
Paul Pierce 2/17/2023 Paid $1.409 million fine Settlement Agreed
Terraform Labs 2/16/2023 Motion to dismiss
GexCrypto 2/7/2023 Paid $2.013 million fine Settlement Agreed
Mango Markets Hacker 1/20/2023 Convicted and sentenced Charges Filed
Nexo Capital 1/19/2023 Paid $22.5 million fine Settlement Agreed
Genesis/Gemini 1/12/2023 Paid $21 million Settlement Agreed

Charges alleging unregistered securities offerings were directed at the issuers of Tron (TRX), BitTorrent (BTT), SafeMoon, Blazar and other cryptocurrencies.

NFT creators were also targeted. Extending the same logic it has applied to dozens of cryptocurrencies, in 2023 the SEC filed lawsuits against Stoner Cats and Impact Theory alleging that they sold unregistered securities.

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