The chairman of the Securities and Exchanges Commission Jay Clayton is stepping down from his role at the end of 2020. While announcing the expected departure, the SEC stated that under his leadership, it had witnessed historic productivity and set new records in enforcement actions and monetary remedies.
Clayton was sworn in as the SEC chair on May 4, 2017, leaving his position of two decades as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell. He joined the regulator at a time when the digital currency industry was on a rapid rise to historic highs. This made him the first SEC chair under whose tenure the digital currency industry was a major player, forcing him to learn on the job.
Under his leadership, the SEC has brought charges against 56 companies dealing in digital currencies and blockchain. It has also reportedly halted 18 suspected digital currency scams. The SEC has also formulated a number of policies geared towards regulating the industry, including the DAO report in 2017 that established digital currencies could fall under federal securities laws.
“I am proud of our collective efforts to advance each part of the SEC’s tripartite mission, always with an eye on the interests of our Main Street investors,” Clayton stated.
Clayton was appointed by President Donald Trump to replace Obama-era’s Mary Jo White. He will now be vacating the key post for a Joe Biden appointee following Trump’s election loss. Clayton had, however, signaled he would be leaving the position even if Trump had beaten his Democratic opponent.
According to Bloomberg, the most likely appointees to replace Clayton are Gary Gensler and Preet Bharara. Both served under the Obama administration with Gensler as the CFTC chair and Bharara as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Whoever gets the position, it’s expected that he’ll be more stringent than Clayton and is likely to crack down even harder on the digital currency industry.
Digital currency enthusiasts are unlikely to have fond memories of Jay Clayton, especially for his stance on a digital currency exchange-traded fund (ETF). The SEC, under his leadership, has shot down a number of digital currency ETFs, claiming the industry still suffers from market manipulation. His stance has been criticized by many, including some of those working under him such as the outspoken ‘Crypto Mom’ Hester Peirce.