With the continuing and ever-growing interest in the crypto space, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is certainly not resting on its laurels and has recently announced a “crypto chief” who will be overseeing legislation and other matters with regards to ICO’s and the cryptocurrency markets in general.
Valerie Szczepanik has been appointed to the position of associate director of the Division of Corporation Finance and will also be the senior advisor for Digital assets and Innovation. According to the agency’s announcement, Szcepanik will be working across all SEC divisions and offices to advice on how securities laws will eventually apply to these emerging digital assets and related technologies, including cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had glowing words of praise for Szczepanik and expressed full confidence that she would make a huge success out of her appointment.
“Valerie’s thought leadership in this area is recognized both within the Commission and across financial regulators in the United States and abroad. With her demonstrated skill, experience, and keen awareness of the importance of fostering innovation while ensuring investor protection, Val is the right person to coordinate our efforts in this dynamic area that has both promise and risk,” Clayton said in a statement.
Szczepanik, who joined the SEC in 1997, was the head of the commission’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group, co-Head of Dark Web Working Group, and a member of the FinTech Working Group. Most recently, she served as an assistant director in the Division of Enforcement’s Cyber Unit.
The SEC has been quite proactive when it comes to the cryptocurrency market. In May, the SEC launched what it called ‘Operation Crypto sweep,’ a joint operation between 40 U.S. and Canadian financial regulators to combat fraud in the ICO and cryptocurrency markets. This operation has been welcomed by honest operators in the field since it should clean up the market considerably from those fraudsters and swindlers who have given a bad name to the industry in general. This initiative was followed by the launch of a spoof website called HoweyCoins, where a fictitious scenario demonstrating a classic cryptocurrency investment scam was recreated.
In 2017, the securities regulator launched a dedicated cyber unit designed to investigate cybercrime in the fintech industry. The unit focuses on ICO activity, which are considered as the largest threat to potential investors. This new appointment within the SEC continues to emphasize the importance the SEC is making to clean up the market and protect investors.
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