The US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) is investigating the no order-book decentralized exchange Uniswap according to unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
SEC is examining Uniswap Labs, the entity that developed the platform, seeking information on how it is used and marketed with the investigation being at the early stage and may not produce any formal allegations of wrongdoings according to WSJ.
A spokesperson for Uniswap said they’re “committed to complying with the laws and regulations governing our industry and to providing information to regulators that will assist them with any enquiry.” SEC declined to comment.
That makes this the first known investigation on defi with SEC so going after the biggest platform just weeks after the new chair, Gary Gensler, took over.
Suggestions previously were Gensler was too busy with many other needed reforms at the SEC, but the former Goldman Sachs banker is prioritizing his very limited budget for defi despite there being no high court ruling or legislative act that gives SEC clear jurisdiction.
That’s especially where it concerns something like Uniswap which has previously been forked, proving the platform is fully decentralized.
Therefore establishing liability here, considering Uniswap is a bit like wikipedia where anyone can add new assets and liquidity, should be a difficult task that courts first amendment protections because code is speech.
Alternatively Uniswap Labs can just buy a SEC registered entity, like Coinbase did, and so be compliant but still they can’t comply fully because anyone can add any asset.
The only way they can comply is to effectively become a centralized exchange where their own front interface is concerned, something that should guarantee further forking of the platform and a fall in liquidity.
Thus it may be that Gensler chooses the option of bullying behind back doors rather than formally taking any action with his agency having no restrictions against insider trading of cryptos, unlike for stocks over which they have proper jurisdiction.