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The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Monday that it has filed charges against cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, just months after settling previous charges against the firm.
In a press release, the SEC alleged that Kraken's parent companies were "operating Kraken’s crypto trading platform as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, dealer, and clearing agency." The agency filed similar charges against rival exchange Coinbase earlier this year.
Pressingly, the SEC alleges that Kraken commingled customer assets with company funds, including paying its own bills from an account that held customer funds. Per the SEC, such an approach created "what its own auditor had identified as 'a significant risk of loss' to its customers."
In the complaint, the SEC alleged that the following cryptocurrencies are securities: Cardano (ADA), Algorand (ALGO), Cosmos (ATOM), Filecoin (FIL), Flow (FLOW), Internet Computer (ICP), Decentraland (MANA), Polygon (MATIC), Near (NEAR), OMG Network (OMG), and Solana (SOL).
“We allege that Kraken made a business decision to reap hundreds of millions of dollars from investors rather than coming into compliance with the securities laws. That decision resulted in a business model rife with conflicts of interest that placed investors’ funds at risk,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, the SEC's Director of the Division of Enforcement.
“Kraken’s choice of unlawful profits over investor protection is one we see far too often in this space," he continued, "and today we’re both holding Kraken accountable for its misconduct and sending a message to others to come into compliance.”
In response to the action, Kraken said it does not list securities and plans to "vigorously defend our position."
"It is disappointing to see the SEC continue down its path of regulation by enforcement, which harms American consumers, stunts innovation and damages U.S. competitiveness globally," a Kraken spokesperson told Decrypt. "We believe Congressional action is the most appropriate path to resolving the lack of regulatory clarity in the U.S. ”
The SEC previously charged Kraken in relation to its staking services, which provided a yield for customers who "locked up" and held certain cryptocurrencies within the exchange. Kraken agreed to pay $30 million to settle those earlier charges and discontinue the staking service in the United States.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication with additional details.