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Federal Judge Sanctions SEC for ‘Gross Abuse of Power

SEC | March 20, 2024

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SEC Sanctioned for Misrepresenting Evidence in the DEBT Box Case

This week, a US federal court sanctioned the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for what was called 'a gross abuse of power' for its misrepresentation and inappropriate actions against DEBT Box, a crypto company based in Utah.  This news quickly became a focal point for discussions on regulatory overreach and the appropriate scope of SEC oversight in the fintech sector.  The ruling sends a strong message about the limits of regulatory authority and the need for clear, consistent guidelines for fintech and cryptocurrency entities.

See:  SEC Intensifies Accounting Audits in 2023

  • Federal judge Robert J. Shelby later found that the SEC misrepresented evidence; the $720,000 was actually transferred within the United States, not overseas.  The SEC admitted to not being 'forthcoming' and that its presentation wasn't fully honest but argued against sanctions.
  • Judge Shelby sanctioned the SEC for acting in bad faith, citing intentional lying about evidence and stating this constituted a "gross abuse of power" and undermined the judicial process.


The incident led to calls for the termination of involved SEC staff, reforms within the agency, and suggestions that SEC lawyers should bear personal liability for such conduct.  The judge has ordered the SEC to pay the attorneys' fees of the defendants in the case.

Gurbir Grewal, the Chief of SEC Enforcement, extended an apology to Judge Shelby for the errors committed in the DEBT Box case. Michael Welsh, the SECs attorney on the case, expressed regret for his actions, too.

See:  Peirce Laments, SEC ‘Squandered A Decade’

Grewal announced plans to introduce mandatory training for SEC enforcement personnel, focusing on the requisite standards for pursuing emergency legal actions.

Closing Perspective

The DEBT Box case highlights the potential for regulatory overreach and the need for transparent, fair, and equitable guidelines that support the dynamic nature of fintech and cryptocurrency sectors. The symbolic impact of imposing sanctions on the SEC could create a precedent and potential recalibration for regulatory bodies worldwide.

NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Federal Judge Sanctions SEC for 'Gross Abuse of PowerThe National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit:

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