The SEC has issued $2.4B in crypto-related penalties since 2013

According to a Jan 19 analysis by Cornerstone Research, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has levied a total of approximately $2.35 billion in penalties against players in the digital asset sector since 2013.

Between 2013 and the end of 2021, the SEC brought 97 enforcement actions totaling $2.35 billion, according to the report, SEC Cryptocurrency Enforcement: 2021 Update.

Action litigation accounted for 58 of the total 97 cases, while administrative processes accounted for 39. The litigations raised a total of $2.35 billion, with $1.71 billion charges in litigation and $640 million in administrative proceedings.

The vast majority of those charged were “business responders exclusively,” accounting for $1.86 billion of the $2.35 billion total. Meanwhile, the remaining $490 million was charged to individual respondents.


Despite the fact that the SEC issued its first monetary penalty against a crypto participant in July 2013, the research notes that SEC-initiated litigation in the crypto area did not take up until 2017. There were only six SEC-initiated crypto cases between 2013 and 2017.

In 2021, the agency will begin 20 of the total 97 activities, including 14 litigation cases in federal courts in the United States and six administrative proceedings. Seventy percent of the 20 total enforcement actions were related to initial coin offerings (ICOs). According to the report:

“In 2021, 65 percent of the enforcement proceedings filed asserted fraud, 80% accused unregistered security offering violation, and 55 percent alleged both.”

According to the report’s author, the SEC’s recent assault on crypto could be linked to the appointment of SEC chief Gary Gensler in April 2021, adding that SEC enforcement was “particularly high” between the end of May and mid-September.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took action against a crypto lending platform, an unregistered digital asset exchange, and a decentralized finance (DeFi) lender in some first-of-a-kind measures. After Telegram, it also levied one of the greatest monetary penalties in an ICO-related enforcement case,” she added.