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Valerie Szczepanik Appointed as First SEC ‘Crypto Czar’

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday appointed Valerie Szczepanik to a new position being referred to as “crypto czar”. Szczepanik’s official title is the Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation for the division’s acting director Bill Hinman.

What crypto czar entails

The creation of this position is being interpreted as an indication of the SEC’s commitment to further regulating the cryptocurrency industry. Szczepanik’s role as a senior advisor will entail overseeing digital asset technologies, including initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.

The official government press release notes her responsibilities as including “[coordinating] efforts across all SEC Divisions and Offices regarding the application of US securities laws to emerging digital asset technologies and innovations, including Initial Coin Offerings and cryptocurrencies”.

The new role appears to hold substantial actionable responsibilities, with which acting director Hinman believes she is more than suited for.

”[Szczepanik] is a recognized leader in responding to developments in our markets. I am excited to have her join me and the Division’s staff as the SEC continues to collaborate with retail investors, issuers and other market participants, in this important and rapidly evolving area,” Hinman said.

Addressing her appointment, Szczepanik noted, ”I am excited to take on this new role in support of the SEC’s efforts to address digital assets and innovation as it carries out its mission to facilitate capital formation, promote fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and protect investors, particularly Main Street investors.”

Valerie Szczepanik’s history

The official press release details Szczepanik’s relevant employment history, noting that she joined the SEC in 1997 with her last job role designated as the assistant director in the division of enforcement’s cyber unit.

Previously, she has also headed the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group as part of the SEC’s fintech division, qualifying her relevant blockchain capabilities.

Szczepanik shares the SEC’s generally negative perception of ICOs, stating earlier this year,”They’re raising a lot of money, but they’re not complying with the rules that are in place to protect investors… What we’re seeing is the issuance of these tokens before a platform is built.”

Part of her skepticism comes from a critical perception of the ICOs that are structured to raise money for a company rather than for the launch of a cryptocurrency, leading them to fall under the acting legislative definition of a security.

It is unfortunate for cryptocurrency investors that this appointment would be given to another government employee with such a negative perspective on ICOs, but her positioning may well encourage instituting better legislation for all investors.

 

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