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USDC Issuer Circle Served With Subpoena by SEC

Circle has published filings revealing that it received an investigative subpoena from the SEC in July 2021.

Photo: Bloomberg

Key Takeaways

  • Circle is under investigation by the SEC, the company revealed in regulatory filings on Monday.
  • The SEC reportedly requested documents and information regarding certain holdings, customer programs, and operations.
  • Circle said that it is “fully cooperating” with the investigation.

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Circle, the issuer of the USDC stablecoin, has revealed in regulatory filings that it received an “investigative subpoena” from the Securities and Exchange Commission in July 2021.

Circle Cooperates With SEC’s Investigation

Circle is under investigation by the SEC, the company revealed Monday.

According to an Oct. 4 regulatory filing, Circle received an “investigative subpoena” from SEC’s Enforcement Division in July 2021. The SEC requested “documents and information regarding certain of [Circle’s] holdings, customer programs, and operations,” said the filing.

Circle further revealed that it is “fully cooperating” with the investigation, which launched one month after the company released its high-interest yield product, Circle Yield. While Circle hasn’t revealed any extra details concerning the investigation, there are reasons to believe the subpoena might be related to the high yield product.

Last month, Coinbase, a member of the Centre Consortium and largest U.S.-based crypto exchange, was forced to abort the launch of a similar high-yield product, Coinbase Lend, after the SEC threatened the company with a lawsuit for issuing unregistered securities.

Judging by the SEC’s most recent comments and regulatory actions, it appears to have concerns with both crypto-related interest-bearing products and stablecoins. Earlier this year, the agency moved against interest-bearing account providers BlockFi and Celsius, alleging they’re offering unregistered securities. Additionally, in a September Senate hearing, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said that “stablecoins may well be securities,” explaining that the current securities laws are sufficiently broad.

The Circle filing is part of the company’s plan to go public via a special-purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) through a merger with Concord Acquisition Corp, valuing the firm at $4.5 billion. In early August, Circle revealed that it had applied for a banking charter, a move likely made in anticipation of the Biden administration’s plans to regulate all stablecoin issuers as banks.

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