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Lisa Cantin
Lisa Cantin

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Coinbase Takes Legal Action Against SEC and FDIC Over Document Requests

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has taken legal action against two major U.S. financial regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), accusing them of improperly blocking the company's requests for documents related to cryptocurrency regulations.

Seeking Transparency on Crypto Regulations

Through the lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Coinbase is seeking to compel the SEC and FDIC to provide internal documents and communications that could shed light on how these agencies view and regulate cryptocurrencies.

Specifically, Coinbase is requesting documents from the SEC related to three closed investigations involving digital assets, including the agency's past scrutiny of Ethereum. The exchange also wants to obtain copies of the "pause letters" sent by the FDIC to financial institutions, advising them to halt crypto-related activities until further guidance is provided.

Allegations of Regulatory Overreach and Lack of Transparency
Coinbase has accused the SEC and FDIC of using various exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to improperly block access to these documents, which the exchange believes should be publicly available.

The lawsuits allege that the regulators' actions are part of a "deliberate and concerted effort" to hinder the cryptocurrency industry's access to the traditional financial system, drawing parallels to the controversial "Operation Choke Point" initiative from the past.

Coinbase's chief legal officer, Paul Grewal, has stated that the company is seeking to shed light on the agencies' "newfound, sweeping (and unlawful) authority" over the crypto sector, as well as any potential inconsistencies in how they apply regulations.

Ongoing Tensions Between Coinbase and U.S. Regulators

The latest legal actions are the latest in a series of clashes between Coinbase and U.S. financial regulators. The exchange is currently embroiled in a high-profile court battle with the SEC over the agency's accusations that Coinbase operates an illegal exchange trading unregistered securities.

Coinbase has also previously funded lawsuits against other government entities, such as the U.S. Treasury Department, over its sanctions against the crypto mixer Tornado Cash. However, those efforts were ultimately unsuccessful in federal court.

Implications for the Crypto Industry

The outcome of Coinbase's lawsuits against the SEC and FDIC could have significant implications for the broader cryptocurrency industry. If successful, the exchange's efforts to compel the regulators to disclose internal documents and communications could provide valuable insights into the agencies' decision-making processes and regulatory approaches.

This information could potentially strengthen Coinbase's legal position in its ongoing disputes with the SEC, as well as shed light on the perceived regulatory pressure being exerted on the crypto industry's access to traditional financial services.

Ultimately, Coinbase's legal actions underscore the industry's ongoing struggle to navigate the complex and evolving regulatory landscape in the United States, as it seeks greater transparency and clarity from the government.

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