HomeBlockchainRegulationRegulation crypto: SEC's compensation claims against Coinbase can proceed

Regulation crypto: SEC’s compensation claims against Coinbase can proceed

In a significant development in crypto regulation, Judge Katherine Polk Failla of New York has ruled that the case involving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Coinbase, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges, must proceed, denying the motion to dismiss.

This decision represents a crucial moment in the ongoing legal examination of Coinbase’s operations in the cryptocurrency sphere.

SEC moves against Coinbase: the government regulatory authority’s attempt to regulate the crypto world

Judge Failla’s decision stems from the SEC’s allegations that Coinbase operated as an exchange, broker, and clearing agency without proper registration, in addition to conducting an unregistered sale of securities through its staking program.

The judge has granted most of the SEC’s requests, but has rejected the claim that Coinbase acted as an unregistered broker with its Wallet application.

Coinbase, which was sued by the SEC last year, vehemently contested these accusations, requesting the dismissal of the case and accusing the regulatory authority of using a “regulation through enforcement” strategy. 

However, with the court ruling in favor of the SEC, the case is now set to proceed to trial, which will likely begin in 2025.

The judge’s decision highlights the SEC’s ability to take legal action against cryptocurrency platforms operating outside regulatory frameworks.

Allowing the case to proceed, Judge Failla highlighted the importance of adhering to securities laws in the thriving cryptocurrency sector.

One of the crucial aspects of the ruling concerns the application of the Howey test, a legal standard established by a 1946 case of the United States Supreme Court. 

The test evaluates whether an asset qualifies as an investment contract and therefore as a security. Judge Failla has ruled that some cryptocurrency transactions on the Coinbase platform met the criteria outlined in the Howey test, reinforcing the SEC’s allegations of selling unregistered securities.

The irrelevant charges to the court’s judgment

However, not all of the SEC’s accusations carried weight in the court’s ruling. The claim that Coinbase’s Wallet application operated as an unregistered broker was rejected by Judge Failla. 

The judge ruled that the SEC did not provide sufficient evidence to support this claim, highlighting a significant victory for Coinbase in the legal battle.

Furthermore, Coinbase had invoked the doctrine of big questions in its defense, arguing that the SEC’s actions lacked a clear authorization from Congress for matters of significant national importance. 

Despite Coinbase’s claims, Judge Failla was not convinced, emphasizing that the impact of the cryptocurrency industry is not significant enough to constitute a major part of the American economy.

Furthermore, Coinbase has argued that the SEC violated due process by initiating charges without proper notice.

However, Judge Failla rejected this claim, citing the SEC’s efforts to provide guidance and warnings to Coinbase regarding potential enforcement actions related to the sale of certain crypto-assets.

This legal battle between Coinbase and the SEC highlights broader issues regarding the regulation of cryptocurrencies and digital assets. 

With the continuous evolution of the cryptocurrency sector, regulatory clarity remains a pressing concern for market participants and authorities.

The outcome of this case could set important precedents for future regulatory actions and for the overall trajectory of the cryptocurrency market.


In conclusion, Judge Failla’s decision to allow the advancement of the SEC’s requests against Coinbase represents a significant development in the ongoing legal saga between the exchange and the regulatory authority. 

On one hand, the ruling presents challenges for Coinbase, especially regarding the alleged securities violations, on the other hand it highlights the complexities and uncertainties surrounding cryptocurrency regulation. 

As the case moves towards trial, all eyes will be on the courtroom as it faces the intersection between law and innovation in the digital asset landscape.