The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asked Coinbase to delist over 200 cryptocurrencies from its trading platform, before filing a lawsuit against the crypto exchange.
According to a report from the Financial Times, regulators at the agency asked Coinbase to halt all trading in every cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin.
“They came back to us, and they said . . . we believe every asset other than bitcoin is a security,” Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told the publication.
When Coinbase pushed back and asked the SEC to shed light on how they arrived at that conclusion, the regulator reportedly responded by saying “we’re not going to explain it to you,” and instead, demanded that the exchange delist nearly all of its tokens.
“We really didn’t have a choice at that point, delisting every asset other than bitcoin, which by the way is not what the law says, would have essentially meant the end of the crypto industry in the US,” Armstrong said.
The SEC sued Coinbase in June, alleging that the firm was operating as an unregistered broker, exchange and clearing agency, a day after it brought a similar enforcement action against crypto exchange Binance. However, market participants saw the lawsuit coming a few months prior, when Coinbase disclosed it had received a Wells Notice from the regulator.
Coinbase’s chief legal officer Paul Grewal said at the time that despite more than 30 meetings with the SEC over the course of nine months, the agency did not raise questions about assets on the platform. Then, finally, a day before a scheduled meeting in January, the SEC informed the exchange that it would be shifting gears to enforcement action.
On July 7, the SEC claimed that Coinbase was aware that securities laws applied to its business before the lawsuit was filed.