SEC Tells US-Listed Companies They’d Better Disclose Crypto Damage

Crypto’s pains are being shared by a wide array of companies. The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning public companies that if they have a stake in the industry’s recent torments, they’d better tell investors.

“Recent bankruptcies and financial distress among crypto asset market participants have caused widespread disruption in those markets,” the agency’s Division of Corporation Finance advised U.S. public companies on Thursday. “Companies may have disclosure obligations under the federal securities laws related to the direct or indirect impact that these events and collateral events have had or may have on their business.”

A sample letter to such companies is asking, for instance, if they face any risks to their businesses “due to excessive redemptions, withdrawals or a suspension of redemptions or withdrawals, of crypto assets.”

The Division of Corporation Finance is the SEC’s disclosures arm, advising securities-issuing companies about how to properly inform investors about meaningful threats to their businesses.

The wider SEC has been in a general standoff with much of the crypto industry, insisting that many of the digital assets platforms should be registered exchanges, while many of those firms argue that they’re either not involved with securities or the agency hasn’t properly defined crypto securities.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler reiterated his views again that the agency has made clear what crypto companies should do, telling a reporter on Wednesday that “the rules are there” and that “law firms know how to advise their clients to comply.”

Thursday’s document said the sample questions it would send out are not “exhaustive,” saying that companies should evaluate their own specific risks and concerns.

The crypto industry has faced a number of high-profile failures and bankruptcies over the past several months, with crypto exchange FTX and multiple lenders revealing that they owed thousands of people millions of dollars’ worth of crypto.

These companies’ ties to traditional financial institutions are also under scrutiny. On Wednesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to bank regulators, asking them to examine these ties and pointing to Moonstone Bank, a firm FTX invested in, as one example.

Correction (Dec. 8, 2022, 21:40 UTC): Corrects that Sen. Smith represents Minnesota, not New Mexico.