2022 was a rocky year for cryptocurrency. Prices crashed, Terra collapsed, FTX went bankrupt, and – Solidus research now shows – regulators engaged in more enforcement than in any other year in the industry’s history.
In 2022, the four main federal regulators with authority over cryptocurrency – the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – announced a combined 58 crypto-related enforcement actions, a 65% jump over 2021.
Interact with any bar in the stacked chart to view the number of actions announced by that agency in the selected year.
The SEC announced 30 crypto-related enforcement actions in 2022, more than any other regulator we identified worldwide. CFTC crypto enforcement, meanwhile, grew the most from year-to-year, with the number of actions they announced up 73% from 11 to 19. FinCEN’s activity grew the least, matching its previous one-year high.
From 2013 to 2022, the four federal agencies have imposed a combined $3.6 billion in fines against crypto market participants. The majority of these penalties – $3.4 billion – have been issued by the SEC and CFTC.
Many US states also set records last year. Regulators in 24 US states and the District of Columbia announced more crypto-related enforcement actions in 2022 than in any other year. 16 of these states also announced their first crypto-related enforcement action last year, thanks in part to the three multi-state actions coordinated by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) against BlockFi, Nexo, and Voyager; 38 states joined one or more of these three. In each case, state regulators asserted that the company’s interest-bearing crypto products constituted unregistered securities offerings.
In the following sections, we analyze the enforcement activities of the most prolific state and federal crypto regulators, gleaning insight into:
- How their enforcement pace changed in 2022 compared to 2021
- The types of organizations and violations they prioritized
- What court cases and rule changes may expand or reduce their authority in 2023