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Hassan Shittu

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SEC Chair Gensler Warns of Bitcoin's Role in Ransomware

SEC chair Gary Gensler. Source: A video screenshot, YouTube / SEC

United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler spoke about Bitcoin, stating that it is the leading market share for ransomware attacks.

Despite the agency’s approval of 11 Spot Bitcoin ETFs earlier this year, Gensler has continued to express his disapproval of the asset and the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.

SECs Gensler Once Again Calls Out Bitcoin’s Connection to Ransomware


Speaking to CNBC, SEC Chair Gary Gensler stated that Bitcoin is the leading market share for ransomware attacks. However, this is similar to statements that Gensler published following the approval of the Bitcoin ETFs. In a statement, he referenced ransomware as one of the illicit activities of which Bitcoin is prominently a part.

In his statement, he called Bitcoin “a speculative, volatile asset that is also used for illicit activity including ransomware, money laundering, sanction evasions, and terrorist financing.” Additionally, he was certain to make the distinction that the investment product approvals were not an approval or endorsement of Bitcoin as an asset.

Throughout his tenure as SEC Chair, Gary Gensler has been noted for his enforcement-first approach to cryptocurrency regulation. Moreover, he has not been shy about sharing his perspective on the industry’s illicit activity. Indeed, he has maintained his opinion of the volatility within the asset class and the danger it poses to investors.

On Jan. 10, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved Bitcoin ETF applications from ARK 21Shares, Invesco Galaxy, VanEck, WisdomTree, Fidelity, Valkyrie, BlackRock, Grayscale, Bitwise, Hashdex, and Franklin Templeton. most of which began trading on Jan. 11.

Following those landmark approvals, Gensler released a statement. Within it, he noted that the applications mirrored “those we have disapproved of in the past.” While stating that “circumstances have changed,” leading to the approval. However, in that statement, he also spoke of Bitcoin’s connection to ransomware as a reason for his disapproval of it.

Gensler emphasized that the approval of investment products such as ETFs should not be construed as an endorsement of Bitcoin as an asset. While acknowledging the changing circumstances that led to the ETF approvals, he maintained his reservations about Bitcoin’s volatility and its potential use in illicit activities.

Approval of Bitcoin ETFs Raises Questions and Speculation


Gensler has served as the head of the SEC since April 2021, with a term expected to end in 2026. Throughout his tenure as SEC Chair, Gensler has adopted an enforcement-first approach to cryptocurrency regulation and has consistently raised concerns about the industry’s illicit activities.

Despite the landmark approvals of Spot Bitcoin ETFs, Gensler remains steadfast in his position on Bitcoin’s risks. Under his leadership, the commission has filed enforcement actions against several crypto firms, including Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken.

The decision by the SEC to approve a spot cryptocurrency ETF in the U.S. for the first time raised questions about the intentions of Gary Gensler, the commission’s chair. Since taking office, Gensler has often spoken about the risks of crypto investments, connecting digital assets to fraud and scams. 

However, Gensler was one of three commissioners who voted to approve the offerings. The 3-2 vote tally suggests the SEC chair may have been the deciding vote. Some community members suggested the SEC chair “vote with Wall Street,” as the expansion of crypto products is likely to bring in investor funds. 

Others speculated that “the writing was already on the wall” for the SEC to approve a spot Bitcoin ETF, given that the commission had been mandated by a federal court to review Grayscale’s offering.




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