US Securities Exchange Commission appoints Digital Assets advisor

Valerie Szczepanik will coordinate the SEC’s efforts to apply existing securities law to ICOs and cryptocurrencies. 

Yesterday, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Valerie Szczepanik will become Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation.  The role will effectively put her in charge of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to police the ICO and cryptocurrency markets under existing rules that allow it oversight over stocks, shares and those who issue them. These efforts have seen it intervene in several ICOs over recent months, and issue warnings to the market in general that ICO operations need to fall into line or face sanction.

Ms. Szczepanik is an SEC veteran, having joined the Commission’s team in 1997 – rising to recently serve as an Assistant Director in its Cyber Unit. She currently heads its Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group, and forms part of the Dark Web and FinTech Working Groups as well. Thus, she is well-versed in the cryptocurrency space, but – due to her already influential role in shaping the current thinking of the SEC regarding its policies in the sector – is unlikely to represent any significant change of policy direction.

Her role of as a focal point for existing efforts however, likely means that you’ll be hearing her name a lot more over next few months, as she steps from behind the scenes to head-up the SEC’s crypto clean-up campaign.

Commision Chairman, Jay Clayton said Szczepanik’s “thought leadership in this area is recognised both within the Commission and across financial regulators in the United States and abroad.”

“With her demonstrated skill, experience, and keen awareness of the importance of fostering innovation while ensuring investor protection,” he continued, “Val is the right person to coordinate our efforts in this dynamic area that has both promise and risk.”

Szczepanik added that she was “excited to take on this new role in support of the SEC’s efforts to address digital assets and innovation as it carries out its mission to facilitate capital formation, promote fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and protect investors, particularly Main Street [general public] investors.  I look forward to working closely with staff across the agency, our regulatory partners, and the public as we provide a coordinated and strategic response to developments.”