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SEC receives court sanction over DEBT Box case

SEC's litigation misconduct leads to court-ordered sanctions.

a courtroom sanctioning the SEC

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In a recent court decision, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been sanctioned and ordered to pay the legal fees incurred by the crypto firm DEBT Box.

The court’s 80-page ruling followed the SEC’s disputed actions regarding a restraining order against DEBT Box. The court criticized the SEC’s conduct, finding it to have grossly abused its power and compromised the integrity of the judicial process.

Judge Robert Shelby noted that it “was not a single imprecise statement or inadvertent misstatement” that caused the SEC’s case to crumble. It was the purported facts laid by the Commission.

DEBT Box and the receivers now have 30 days to file petitions to determine the exact amount the SEC will be required to pay. This development has raised concerns among some, including Coinbase CLO Paul Grewal, who pointed out that the sanctions might ultimately be funded by US taxpayers.

“The SEC foisted a bill onto every one of us for their litigation misconduct,” Grewal argued.

At the same time, the court also denied the SEC’s motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, which would have allowed the regulator to refile the case. The SEC’s initial pursuit of a temporary restraining order against DEBT Box was based on allegations of a fraudulent $50 million crypto scheme.

The TRO included an asset freeze and appointed a receiver to assume control of the company on the regulator’s behalf. Allegedly, DEBT Box offered users “node licenses” to receive mining revenue for tokens that were never mined. However, the SEC’s credibility was called into question after it admitted to providing misleading information to the court, including false claims about a transaction that was misrepresented as international when it was actually domestic.

Judge Shelby’s condemnation of the SEC was unequivocal, with the following statement affirming its stance:

“The [SEC’s conduct] constitutes a gross abuse of the power entrusted to it by Congress and substantially undermined the integrity of these proceedings and the judicial process.”

The case continues as the court seeks to determine the justification behind the SEC’s controversial restraining order as well as an explanation for the regulator’s misleading statements. Meanwhile, the SEC itself is reviewing the decision and the court’s order, indicating that this case is far from over.

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