Kraken Fights Back in SEC Lawsuit: Is the SEC Overreaching?

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken refutes SEC lawsuit alleging unregistered securities trading, arguing the agency’s case misinterprets key legal concepts.

Kraken getting a hold of Gary Gensler.
Created by Kornelija Poderskytė from DailyCoin
  • A major cryptocurrency exchange has found itself in a heated legal battle with the SEC.
  • The SEC has accused the exchange of operating as an unregistered securities market.
  • Kraken believes the SEC’s actions have set a dangerous precedent for future crypto regulation.

The legal battle between cryptocurrency exchange Kraken and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) heats up as Kraken refutes the agency’s claims. The SEC lawsuit, filed last November, alleges Kraken operated as an unregistered securities exchange and made millions from unregistered securities.

Kraken Challenges SEC’s Definition of Securities

Kraken argues the SEC’s case lacks merit and misinterprets core legal concepts. Their response highlights the agency’s failure to precisely identify which crypto assets constitute securities on the exchange.


Furthermore, Kraken takes issue with the SEC’s use of broad terms like “investment concept” and “ecosystem” instead of established legal terms like “investment contract” and “enterprise.” This, according to Kraken, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the case’s legal framework.

The SEC’s lawsuit isn’t the first hurdle Kraken has faced. Months prior, they settled charges related to their staking service. This latest lawsuit, however, has broader implications for the entire cryptocurrency industry.

Kraken contends that the SEC’s case sets a “dangerous precedent” for the agency’s reach within the crypto sphere. In response to Kraken’s initial motion to dismiss, the SEC filed a lengthy opposition, defending its authority.

Howey Test at Heart of Kraken’s Defense

The crux of Kraken’s defense hinges on a different interpretation of investment contracts. They argue the SEC’s insistence on written contracts is misplaced, as agreements can be oral, expressed, or implied.


Additionally, Kraken references past SEC cases involving initial coin offerings (ICOs) to bolster their argument. These cases, Kraken argues, demonstrate a focus on contractual rights and obligations, a key factor in defining investment contracts under the Howey Test, the legal standard used to determine if an asset is a security.

The Howey Test establishes a security based on specific criteria: investment of money in a common enterprise with the expectation of profits derived from the efforts of others.

This legal battle unfolds amidst ongoing discussions in the U.S. Congress regarding crypto regulation. Further complicating the picture, eight state attorneys general have filed an amicus brief supporting Kraken’s position, suggesting the SEC may have overstepped its authority.

On the Flipside

  • The amicus brief could be seen as an attempt to limit federal overreach, potentially creating a patchwork of state regulations for crypto.
  • Kraken’s prior settlement over staking could be used by the SEC to argue the exchange understands the regulatory landscape.

Why This Matters

By challenging the SEC’s definition of securities and their broad reach within crypto, Kraken’s defense could significantly impact how crypto assets are regulated. A win for Kraken could set a clearer standard for classifying cryptocurrencies, potentially reducing regulatory burdens for the industry and fostering innovation.

Curious about the role of data in cryptocurrency ETFs? This article dives into CF Benchmarks, a company that provides reference data for cryptocurrency ETFs:
Kraken’s Indices Unit Claims 50% of Crypto Benchmarking Market

Interested in the legal battle between the SEC and Kraken? This article explores a lawsuit that challenges the SEC’s authority to regulate crypto assets:
SEC Slammed in Kraken Lawsuit for Having “No Authority”

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Kyle Calvert

Kyle Calvert is a cryptocurrency news reporter for DailyCoin, specializing in Ripple, stablecoins, as well as price and market analysis news. Before his current role, Kyle worked as a student researcher in the cryptocurrency industry, gaining an understanding of how digital currencies work, their potential uses, and their impact on the economy and society. He completed his Masters and Honors degrees in Blockchain Technology within Esports and Business and Event management within Esports at Staffordshire University.