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U.S. Crypto Renaissance: Courts Challenge SEC’s Stance on Digital Assets

Recent court decisions in the United States could usher in a crypto renaissance, following the legal reins placed on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding its strict stance on digital assets. Jeremy McLaughlin, a renowned partner at the international law firm K&L Gates, touched upon these crucial judgments in a recent panel discussion at Intersekt23, Melbourne.

On August 31, McLaughlin noted notable changes in the budding U.S. crypto market. Previously, crypto regulations were mostly steered at the state level. It was relatively straightforward for businesses to align with those rules. However, the scene altered dramatically when national bodies like the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission stepped onto the pitch. Their stringent outlook led several crypto companies to retract their presence from the U.S., whilst others delisted their tokens.

SEC’s chairman, Gary Gensler’s viewpoint, positing nearly all digital assets as securities, encountered significant resistance in recent court hearings. An impactful setback was observed when the SEC’s lawsuit against a crypto entity was dismissed. Another instance was when the SEC faced defeat in a case lodged by a crypto enterprise.

Highlighting some major court decisions, on August 29, the SEC’s argument against Grayscale Investments was rejected, allowing the latter to convert its prime Bitcoin fund into an exchange-traded entity. Similarly, in July, the SEC had to concede partially in its case against Ripple Labs concerning XRP sales, as the court did not deem it a security when pitched to retail investors.

McLaughlin remarked that the convoluted legal landscape makes it challenging for attorneys, citing the difficulty in offering explicit advice to clients. Despite these intricacies, he remains optimistic, envisioning crypto regulations eventually rising above the prevalent chaos. He noted, “There’s a strong drift in court decisions favoring the digital asset industry.”

While the U.S. witnesses these shifts, a related debate spotlighted Australia’s crypto legislative position. Effie Dimitropoulos, chief of payment services firm Novatti, didn’t mince words and labeled Australia’s crypto regulations “Lagging.” She compared the country’s slackened pace to the proactive regulatory blueprints by Hong Kong and the European Union. She argued that the ambiguity in Australia’s legal framework adversely affects businesses rooted in digital assets, with crypto firms bearing the brunt of fleeting legal guidelines.

Dimitropoulos emphasized the uncertain regulatory future in Australia, mentioning various forthcoming proposals and regulations, concluding with the fitting characterization: “Lagging.”

Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Crypto is not a legal tender and is subject to market risks. Readers are advised to seek expert advice and read offer document(s) along with related important literature on the subject carefully before making any kind of investment whatsoever. Crypto market predictions are speculative and any investment made shall be at the sole cost and risk of the readers.