DJ Gary Gensler Focuses on Crypto Trading Platforms in Senate Hearing
2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
By Paul Kiernan
WASHINGTON -- Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler told lawmakers Tuesday that he was taking a hard look at cryptocurrency trading platforms and firms that pay to execute individual investors' trades while also calling for more funding for the regulatory agency.
Mr. Gensler appeared before the Senate Banking Committee to outline a far-reaching policy agenda that would shake up some Wall Street firms' business models and require heftier disclosures from public companies.
Mr. Gensler repeated calls for cryptocurrency trading platforms to "come in and talk to us" given the SEC's view that many of the assets they offer to investors meet the agency's definition of a security.
In his first congressional testimony since being sworn in five months ago, Mr. Gensler emphasized the SEC's mission of protecting investors while pointing to challenges stemming from emergent technologies such as cryptocurrency and sophisticated data analytics used by financial firms.
"More retail investors than ever are accessing our markets," Mr. Gensler told the committee. Noting that the SEC's staff has declined 4% since fiscal 2016, he repeatedly called for Congress to provide more resources for the agency to police capital markets that have grown in size and complexity. "Funding-wise, we could use a lot more people," he said.
Since being confirmed by the Senate in April, Mr. Gensler has laid out a regulatory agenda that some experts say would amount to the most significant revamp of U.S. securities law in decades.
Among the fights looming with industry groups are potential rule changes for brokers that sell customers' orders to high-speed trading firms, the SEC's plans to increase public companies' disclosure requirements about their workforces and risks stemming from climate change, and efforts to police the fast-growing cryptocurrency market.
In his prepared remarks, Mr. Gensler cited additional plans that he said would improve the resilience of the market for U.S. Treasury debt, which seized up in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic struck, as well as the corporate bond market and the market for asset-backed securities.
He also said that he has asked SEC staff to enhance disclosures from private funds -- a category that includes venture capital, hedge funds and private equity -- to their investors. Mr. Gensler didn't go into additional detail in his prepared remarks. Private funds are broadly exempt from SEC regulations requiring extensive disclosures from public companies and mutual funds to their investors.
"I believe we can enhance disclosures in this area, better enabling pensions and others investing in these private funds to get the information they need to make investment decisions," Mr. Gensler testified.
Write to Paul Kiernan at [email protected]
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 14, 2021 13:27 ET (17:27 GMT)