SEC chairman Roisman
Cryptocurrencies,  Regulation

The SEC gets a new chairman… for now

While it comes at a critical time, the appointment of crypto-friendly Commissioner Elad Roisman to replace Chairman Jay Clayton at the Securities and Exchange Commission will likely last no more than a month or two

Commissioner Elad Roisman will take up the reins at the Securities and Exchange Commission following former Chairman Jay Clayton’s early departure on Dec. 23

Roisman’s appointment to the position was announced by his fellow Republican-appointed commissioner, Hester Pierce.

Peirce congratulated Roisman, saying “I look forward to your leadership of the SEC.”

While Roisman’s appointment comes at an important moment for the cryptocurrency industry, he is unlikely to last more than a few weeks past the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, who will appoint his own chairman. Roisman will, however, continue to serve his term as an appointed commissioner.

That means Roisman is unlikely to make any big, precedent-setting decisions, like approving a Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF). Clayton was a strong opponent of crypto ETFs, arguing that price manipulation and fraud remains rampant. 

Nor is Roisman likely to do much about the enforcement action the SEC launched against international payments firm Ripple on Dec. 22. That suit calls XRP, the cryptocurrency used by and closely associated with Ripple, an unregistered security that the company has sold illegally to the tune of $1.3 billion.

While years in the making, Clayton pushed the suit out the door as he was leaving, filing it just a day before his departure. Its outcome will likely determine his legacy in the cryptocurrency industry.

While the lawsuit is make or break for Ripple, winning a ruling that finds XRP to be a security will likely impact the way many other alt-coins are classified.

The agency also announced a five-year enforcement holiday for broker-dealers who provide custody services for security tokens on Dec. 23.

As for Roisman himself he is considered friendly towards crypto, although not to the  same degree as Peirce, who is known as “Crypto Mom” for her public support of lighter and clearer regulation of the digital asset industry.

In his July 18, 2018 confirmation hearing, Roisman said the agency must “continuously examine and re-examine its rules, regulations and guidelines to ensure that they are still working as intended to accomplish the SEC’s mission.”

He singled out the cryptocurrency business, saying that “the emergence of new investments and technologies such as initial coin offerings and blockchain” is one of the reasons the agency must continually review its work. He explained: 

“It is essential that the SEC approach these new challenges in a fair and transparent manner, provide clarity and certainty to the markets and investors, and enforce the laws and regulations that hold market participants accountable.”

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.