The chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Thursday strongly rebutted criticism that the agency is trying to crush the crypto industry, and said many companies in the space had made a "calculated economic decision" to flout its rules.
Speaking at a Piper Sandler conference in New York, Gary Gensler also reiterated his view that the "vast majority" of crypto tokens meet the test for being a security and should be registered with the SEC. That means most crypto exchanges have to comply with the securities laws too, he added.
"When crypto asset market participants go on Twitter or TV and say they lacked 'fair notice' that their conduct could be illegal, don’t believe it," he said. "They may have made a calculated economic decision to take the risk of enforcement as the cost of doing business."
The crypto industry has attacked Gensler in recent days after the SEC sued two of the world's largest crypto exchanges, Coinbase and Binance, for allegedly breaking securities laws by failing to register their operations with the agency.
Coinbase Chief Executive Brian Armstrong, an outspoken SEC critic who has led a push in Washington for clearer crypto rules, on Wednesday hit back at Gensler, calling him an "outlier" among Washington policymakers and accusing him of being "icy" when the company approached him about registration.
(Reporting by John McCrank in New York Editing by Michelle Price, Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)