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April 27, 2023

Coinbase’s PR Campaign Releasing “Wells” Submission Highlights the Many Serious Violations of Law Identified by the SEC

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Dennis M. Kelleher, Co-founder, President, and CEO, issued the following statement in connection with Coinbase’s release today of its Wells submission to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

“The latest PR move in Coinbase’s campaign against the SEC is its release today of its Wells submission to the SEC.  Like reading only one side’s brief in a legal dispute, Coinbase’s Wells submission, carefully drafted by its lawyers, does not provide much real meaningful information about the dispute.  It is by definition a one-sided argument presented most favorably to the subject of an SEC enforcement investigation like Coinbase.  Tellingly, only 14 of the 73 pages in the Wells brief actually argues the merits of the case.

“Real transparency with ‘customers, stakeholders, and investors’ would be a balanced presentation of the facts and law that includes the SEC’s side of the story, but, as Coinbase knows, that’s not possible because the SEC cannot respond.  In fact, the SEC is required to keep even the fact of an investigation confidential as well as any information related to a Wells process.  The SEC cannot publicly comment until the conclusion of any investigation and Wells process and, even then, only if the five-member Commission votes to bring charges.  Coinbase’s actions therefore appear designed to ensure that the public and media only gets half the story and a decidedly biased half a story at that.

“Nonetheless, Coinbase’s brief highlights many serious allegations of legal violations by Coinbase that the SEC enforcement staff have apparently identified.  For example, based on its own Wells brief, it appears that the SEC staff believes that Coinbase is offering, listing, clearing, or effecting unregistered securities and acting as an unregistered broker.  Those are very serious charges.  Of course, like all those who might be charged by the SEC with violations of the law, Coinbase strenuously if predictably claims total innocence.  But the SEC staff have clearly concluded otherwise based on their investigation and have apparently thus far determined to recommend to the five-member Commission these very serious charges be brought against Coinbase.  Fortunately, if such an action is commenced, it will be decided in a court of law based on a complete record, not in the court of public opinion based on significantly incomplete claims, characterizations, and arguments.”


Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies—including many in finance—to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit

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