Courts will provide 'good guidance' for crypto — CFTC commissioner

Kristin Johnson of the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said there are many ways of handling cryptocurrencies in the country, but legislating through courts could provide a solid, if slow, path.

Speaking at the Blockchain Association’s Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 30, Johnson said the “best outcome” for corporate governance of crypto firms would be to have companies implement their own plans. She cited policymakers introducing reporting requirements for Binance as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the crypto exchange.

According to the CFTC commissioner, Congress could also step in and provide clarification as to the definition of a security — one of the key points behind the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) taking enforcement actions against crypto firms. At times, the CFTC and SEC have had seemingly inconsistent approaches to crypto enforcement depending on which assets the departments considered a security or commodity.

“If we rely on the courts we will get good guidance, but it won’t come quickly,” said Johnson. “We’ve been in these situations before with new financial technology and we should trust in the legal system.”

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Though the CFTC and SEC have both at times settled lawsuits with different crypto firms rather than going to trial, many companies have asked for their day in court. Binance and Coinbase are still facing lawsuits from the SEC filed in June, and the CFTC took legal action against Voyager Digital in October. At the time, Johnson said Voyager was “no better than a house of cards.”

One of five commissioners at the CFTC, Johnson took office in March 2022 after more than a decade working as a law professor. She has often advocated for more robust regulatory controls for crypto and called on Congress to expand the CFTC’s authority over digital assets.

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