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SEC slaps stablecoin issuer Circle with a subpoena as the agency homes in on crypto

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/5/2021 ewu@insider.com (Ethan Wu)
Circle. Chesnot © Chesnot Circle. Chesnot

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an "investigative subpoena" to USD coin issuer Circle Financial as the agency ramps up its scrutiny of the crypto industry.

The subpoena was sent to Circle in July as the stablecoin backer filed for a $4.5 billion SPAC deal with sponsor Concord Acquisition Corp.

The regulator is asking for information on Circle's "holdings, customer programs, and operations."

Circle told several outlets that it was cooperating with the investigation but couldn't comment on specifics. CoinDesk first reported the subpoena on Monday.

The SEC's interest in Circle was not made clear in the subpoena. But a potential focus could be a recent interest-bearing product called Circle Yield that the stablecoin issuer is rolling out.

Many of the SEC's recent crypto enforcement actions have centered on the legal definition of a security. For instance, the agency's back-and-forth with Coinbase in September over the crypto exchange's Lend product saw the SEC threaten to sue over an unregistered securities offering.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has complained that the agency's "sketchy" enforcement approach makes it hard for crypto companies to know what is allowed.

Circle isn't new to dealing with the SEC. Also in July, Circle said it had set aside $10 million for a possible settlement with the agency over Poloniex, a crypto exchange and former Circle subsidiary. But in August, when the SEC formally settled with Poloniex, Circle said it was not part of the settlement deal.

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