US SEC Subpoenas Event Speaker at Messari’s NY Mainnet 2021 Conference

The crypto industry’s relationship with regulatory bodies has always been a murky one. Financial watchdogs remain adamant in their mission to bend the industry to their will, and they appear to be taking things more seriously.

This week, reports have begun swirling about a possible subpoena served to a prominent figure in the crypto space.

Who Got Served?

The rumors were first set off on Monday when an attendee at the Mainnet 2021 Conference in New York tweeted that he saw someone get served a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) before they climbed on stage for their panel. The Mainnet Conference is hosted by Messari – a top crypto research firm – in collaboration with several other high-profile sponsors.

The tweet immediately set off the rumor mill, with many looking to find out who was served the subpoena. Speakers for the event have been lined up, although it is unclear who the individual is.

While it was still uncertain if the rumor had even been confirmed, all doubts were cleared when Messari chief executive Ryan Selkis confirmed that the SEC indeed issued a subpoena to one of the event’s speakers. So far, there has been no confirmation as to who it was.

One of the event’s sponsors is Celsius, a crypto lending protocol that has come under regulatory scrutiny. Last week, the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) filed for a hearing with the potential to slam Celsius with a cease-and-desist order for offering unregistered securities to Texans.

The firm is also under severe pressure in New Jersey. The New Jersey Bureau of Securities confirmed issuing an order against Celsius last week.

The agency alleged that Celsius had been “funding its cryptocurrency lending operations and proprietary trading at least in part through the sale of unregistered securities in violation of the New Jersey Securities Law.” As the securities regulator alleged, Celsiushas raised about $14 billion from these sales already.

But, while Celsius is a sponsor of the Mainnet Conference, none of the company’s officials is billed to speak at the three-day event.

No Desire to Learn

Selkis also bemoaned the lack of interest from regulators to learn about the crypto industry. As the CEO explained, Messari offered event passes to regulators for the event, but they refused. As he put it, this showed a desire to regulate without learning about the industry.

A lack of knowledge on the part of regulators and government officials isn’t a new thing. When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tried to offer clarity on crypto taxation back in 2019, the agency famously missed the definition of airdrops.

Just this week, communication between the office of top anti-crypto senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and the MakerDAO developers showed that the senator’s officials had confused them with the DAO – the autonomous organization that was infamously hacked in 2016.

If regulators and government officials won’t even take the time to learn about the industry, one has to ask how they hope to regulate it effectively.

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