SEC Sues ConsenSys and Coinbase Over Regulatory Violations

SEC Sues ConsenSys and Coinbase Over Regulatory Violations

Luisa Fernandez
2 min read

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a lawsuit against ConsenSys, alleging that its popular MetaMask platform operated as an unregistered broker and offered unregistered securities through its staking service, generating more than $250 million in fees. This legal action follows the SEC's previous investigations into ConsenSys, raising concerns about potential future enforcement measures.

Coinbase, on the other hand, has taken legal steps by suing the SEC and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for their failure to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to crypto regulations. The delay in receiving these responses has led Coinbase to pursue legal action after waiting for over a year.

These recent developments are indicative of a broader regulatory crackdown on decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-custodial services. Several other providers, including Samourai Wallet and Tornado Cash, are also facing legal challenges as a part of this enforcement wave.

Notably, Uniswap has received a Wells notice from the SEC, accused of operating as an unregistered securities broker and exchange, despite asserting compliance with U.S. laws.

Key Takeaways

  • SEC sues ConsenSys, alleging MetaMask served as an unregistered broker and offered unregistered securities.
  • Over $250 million in fees collected by ConsenSys from these activities.
  • Coinbase initiates legal action against the SEC and FDIC due to lack of response to FOIA requests.
  • A broader crackdown on DeFi and non-custodial services is underway.


The SEC's lawsuit against ConsenSys and Coinbase's legal challenge signify a regulatory transformation that could significantly impact the landscape of DeFi, affecting MetaMask users and investors. These actions also underscore the growing frustration within the industry regarding regulatory ambiguity. The wave of enforcement actions also raises short-term concerns about increased legal costs and compliance obligations, and long-term implications may include limitations on the growth and adoption of decentralized services.

Did You Know?

  • MetaMask:
    • Explanation: MetaMask functions as a widely used cryptocurrency wallet and a gateway to blockchain applications, enabling users to engage with the Ethereum network. It operates as a browser extension or mobile app, facilitating the management of digital assets and the execution of transactions on decentralized applications (dApps).
  • Staking Service:
    • Explanation: In the realm of cryptocurrencies, staking involves holding funds in a cryptocurrency wallet to support the operations of a blockchain network, such as validating transactions and maintaining security. Staking services offer users the opportunity to earn rewards by contributing their assets to the network's functioning.
  • Decentralized Finance (DeFi):
    • Explanation: DeFi, or decentralized finance, represents an emerging financial technology built on secure distributed ledgers akin to those used by cryptocurrencies. It aims to eliminate intermediaries by enabling individuals to borrow, lend, or trade directly with one another through smart contracts on blockchains like Ethereum.

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