The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Zachary Coburn, the founder of digital token trading platform EtherDelta, with operating an unregistered exchange.

A First For The SEC

According to an official announcement published earlier today, the SEC has charged Zachary Coburn, the owner of cryptocurrency and token trading platform EtherDelta, for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. This marks the first such enforcement action by the agency.

According to the Commission’s order, EtherDelta represents an online platform designated for secondary market trading of ERC20 tokens which are commonly issued through initial coin offerings (ICOs). The watchdog has hence found that Coburn caused the platform to operate as an unregistered national securities exchange.

According to Stephanie Avakin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Arm, the platform was required to register with the SEC as a securities exchange or, at least, to qualify as an exemption:

EtherDelta had both the user interface and underlying functionality of an online national securities exchange and was required to register with the SEC or qualify for an exemption.

Purportedly, almost all of the orders which were placed on the platform took place after the SEC issued its 2017 DAO Report which outlined that certain cryptocurrencies, DAO tokens included, are securities.

Coburn’s Cooperation

Reportedly, Coburn was quick to cooperate with the SEC, paying $300,000 in disgorgement, $13,000 in prejudgment interest and a penalty of $75,000. However, the founder of EtherDelta is neither admitting to nor denying anything, leaving the investigation ongoing. The SEC has recognized Coburn’s cooperation, outlining that it potentially prevented a greater penalty.

According to the Co-Director of the Commission’s Enforcement Division, Steven Peikin, existing regulations need to be followed closely in order to ensure the necessary protection for investors:

We are witnessing a time of significant innovation in the securities markets with the use and application of distributed ledger technology. But to protect investors, this innovation necessitates the SEC’s thoughtful oversight of digital markets and enforcement of existing laws.

What do you think of the SEC’s charges against EtherDelta? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

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