The Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department are investigating cryptocurrency platform FTX following its sudden implosion this week, a person familiar with the matter said.
Staff at the two law-enforcement agencies were in close contact Wednesday, the person added. The Justice Department prosecutes criminal violations such as fraud, while the SEC enforces civil investor-protection laws.
Spokesmen for the Justice Department and SEC declined to comment. FTX didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The SEC’s investigation, which has been continuing for months, is focused on the company’s U.S. subsidiary, FTX.US, which lists dozens of crypto tokens. Agency officials believe some of these assets, as well as FTX’s lending product, might constitute securities that, under U.S. law, should have been registered with the SEC before being sold to investors, the person said. If that is the case, then the company’s handling of customer assets might also violate laws governing U.S. exchanges.
“We will continue to do our job as a cop on the beat,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in an event hosted on Wednesday by the Healthy Markets Association. “The runway is getting shorter for some of these intermediaries, I have to say.”
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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