SEC’s Gensler Uses Crypto Oversight Needs as Case for Higher Budget

SEC Chair Gary Gensler told U.S. House budget appropriators that he’d like to be doing more to protect crypto investors.

Gary Gensler, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, made a pitch for a higher budget Wednesday, telling lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives that he wants to do more as a cop on the cryptocurrency beat.

Gensler, in testimony before members of the House Appropriations Committee, said, “I wish we had more to be able to dedicate to this.”

He cited the recent firestorm that consumed terraUSD (UST) as an example of the industry’s investor-protection need, telling lawmakers “there was one crypto complex that went from $50 billion in value to zero just in the last three weeks.”

He explained his 1,300-person enforcement division has a little more than 50 people concentrating on this space after recently adding another 20. That still leaves the agency outgunned on crypto cases, arguing that “the public is not protected.”

He granted Wednesday that bitcoin (BTC) is one of a very small number of likely commodity tokens that belong under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s lens, but the vast majority belong under the SEC’s jurisdiction. And any exchange that handles trading in even one of them “should register with us as a national exchange.”

“We’ve actually said publicly – and we’ve talked with many of these exchanges one-on-one – come in,” he said. “Work with us.”

Meanwhile, he said the SEC will conduct a “robust enforcement effort” as he also called out crypto firms for vulnerability to hackers and the practice of making investment bets against their customers.