SEC requests extra $158M from federal budget to police crypto’s ‘Wild West’

Part of the funds would hire staff across SEC divisions, with one job dedicated to crypto and another to help with the increased lawsuits the agency faces.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission is asking Congress for an extra $158 million from the federal budget next year to address “significant growth and change in our markets,” including the “Wild West of the crypto markets.”

The SEC’s March 11 Congressional Budget Justification — a document that outlines its budgetary needs for the upcoming 2025 fiscal year — is requesting $2.594 billion for 2025 — up from $2.436 billion it requested in 2024.

“Technology is rapidly transforming our markets and business models,” SEC Chair Gary Gensler wrote in the 148-page document that outlined its need for the money and included its performance report for last year.

“There has been dynamic change in communications to and among investors, from Reddit forums to celebrity influencers. Further, we’ve seen the Wild West of the crypto markets, rife with noncompliance, where investors have put hard-earned assets at risk in a highly speculative asset class.”

Gensler said the changes mean there’s “more possibility for wrongdoing” and the SEC “as the cop on the beat […] Must be able to meet the match of bad actors.”

The SEC said part of the extra funds were needed to up staff across its divisions, it’s now targeting 5,621 positions in 2025, up from 2024’s target of 5,473 positions.

The regulator’s Division of Examinations (EXAMS) — its compliance-checking branch — wants to fund 23 more positions to strengthen its ability to tackle “critical and evolving risks,” including “crypto assets and emerging financial technology.”

The retail investor-facing Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) requested one more position that would “focus primarily on handling questions and complaints related to fraud involving crypto asset securities.”

The SEC’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC), which heads its army of lawyers, said it needed two more positions — one to help with the “continued increases in civil and administrative litigation brought against the Commission” and the other to support its whistleblowing program which has seen a “significantly higher volume.”

For its 2023 performance report, the SEC claims it “met or exceeded” 28 of a total of 36 performance targets, falling short of six and not having enough data for two.

The performance targets range from hitting a required number of examinations to the percentage of lawsuits the SEC wins on at least one claim — though it didn’t hit that target in 2023.

The targets are based on three goals Gensler shared in 2022 for the agency’s four-year plan, which include protecting the public against fraud, implementing a legal framework, and diversifying its workforce.

In 2023 the SEC’s crypto-related enforcement actions of litigation or administrative proceedings numbered 46, over double that of 2021 when Gensler became chair, but under 6% of its total 784 actions that year.

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