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FTX collapse sparks call by Janet Yellen for 'more effective' cryptocurrency oversight

FOX News logo FOX News 11/16/2022 Megan Henney
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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday called for more robust oversight of cryptocurrency markets after the stunning collapse of crypto exchange FTX, which plunged the trillion-dollar industry into chaos last week.

"The recent failure of a major cryptocurrency exchange and the unfortunate impact that has resulted for holders and investors of crypto assets demonstrate the need for more effective oversight of cryptocurrency markets," Yellen said in a statement. 

The Treasury Department and other regulators have identified risks in crypto markets over the past year, including the "comingling of customer assets, lack of transparency, and conflicts of interest," she said. 

"We have very strong investor and consumer protection laws for most of our financial products and markets that are designed to address these risks," Yellen said. "Where existing regulations apply, they must be enforced rigorously so that the same protections and principles apply to crypto assets and services."

INSIDE THE COLLAPSE OF CRYPTO EXCHANGE FTX: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, speaks during the Institute of International Finance (IIF) annual membership meeting in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images © Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, speaks during the Institute of International Finance (IIF) annual membership meeting in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FTX, once the world's third-largest exchange with a valuation near $32 billion, sent shockwaves through the crypto world on Friday when it announced that it was filing for bankruptcy, along with Alameda Research and other affiliated companies. Days earlier, industry rival Binance backed out of a deal to buy its troubled competitor after taking a look at the books and learning that FTX had "mishandled customer funds."

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The firm's founder and CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, announced his resignation when the bankruptcy papers were filed in Delaware on Friday.

Both the company and Bankman-Fried are under investigation in the U.S. and other countries for possible securities violations amid allegations that FTX used $10 billion of customer funds to prop up Alameda Research, its affiliated trading firm. 

WHO’S REALLY TO BLAME FOR FTX CRYPTO COLLAPSE?

The sudden collapse, which threatened to upend futures markets, has been likened the crypto industry's "Lehman Brothers" moment – a reference to the 2008 collapse of the global financial services firm that helped to spark the global financial meltdown. 

It has raised major concerns about an industry that has remained largely unregulated. 

Yellen acknowledged that FTX fallout has largely been limited to the crypto markets, but she warned that its links to the traditional financial system "could raise broader financial stability concerns." 

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX US Derivatives, testifies during the House Agriculture Committee hearing titled Changing Market Roles: The FTX Proposal and Trends in New Clearinghouse Models, in Longworth Building on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) © (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX US Derivatives, testifies during the House Agriculture Committee hearing titled Changing Market Roles: The FTX Proposal and Trends in New Clearinghouse Models, in Longworth Building on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

"Going forward," she said, "it’s vital we do what is necessary to address these concerning risks and act to protect consumers and promote financial stability."

Panels in both the Senate and the House are planning to hold hearings on FTX's collapse net month. The House Financial Services and Senate Banking committees plan December hearings that will examine the sudden demise of FTX under the leadership of Bankman-Fried, a Democratic mega-donor.

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