update 24 September 2021

New US SEC Chairman to Receive Payments from Banking Giant Goldman Sachs

Gary Gensler, the new chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), came under fire after a recent disclosure. The report highlighted that the SEC head could receive over $11,724 a year in payments from Goldman Sachs.

The revelation showed that Gensler might use his new role as SEC chair to attack retail investors.

Some in the crypto sphere questioned Gensler’s pension plan from Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. They argued that the new SEC head could be more inclined to protect his real paymasters. They also believe he is not using his role to foster innovation in the blockchain sector.

Gensler repeatedly states that he taught a crypto course at MIT. However, he has never put his money in bitcoin or any other digital asset. According to the recent disclosure, he instead invested between $50M to $100M in stocks.

That raised concerns that the SEC chair has no stake in the burgeoning $1.6 trillion digital asset class and could be rooting for it to crash to protect his stock investments. 

SEC Chair Calls for Increased Regulation on Crypto

Since taking the reigns in April, the SEC head has clamped down on the nascent crypto industry. Before his appointment, many hailed Gary Gensler as a rare lawmaker who understands the blockchain and cryptocurrencies. 

However, in his August speech for the Aspen Security Forum, the chairman claimed that there wasn’t enough oversight in the crypto space to protect investors. He called for Congress to give his agency more authority to counter rampant fraud in the sector, which he called the Wild West.

Gensler noted that most industry participants were not operating within frameworks that protect consumers and financial stability.

“The legislative priority should center on crypto trading, lending, and DeFi platforms. Regulators would benefit from additional plenary authority to write rules for and attach guardrails to crypto trading and lending,” he emphasized.

Interestingly, the push from Wall Street’s top cop for more regulatory oversight on crypto-related happenings has faced pushback from some of the US government’s top officials.

Brian Quintenz, a Commodities Trading and Futures Commission (CFTC) commissioner, tweeted that the SEC should have no regulatory authority over pure commodities like crypto. Meanwhile, a former CFTC head asserted that the SEC had no experience regulating crypto markets in a recent post.

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The current SEC chair’s comments suggest that the agency pushes for more regulatory oversight before approving bitcoin ETF applications. The financial watchdog is likely looking to balance crypto’s potential as a tool for payments and financial inclusion.