The recent lawsuits filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against leading cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase and Binance have ignited a legal battle that is attracting the attention of renowned defense lawyers.
Among the attorneys making their entrance into this legal battlefield, names from prominent law firms in the country have gotten involved, according to Reuters.
A Glimpse Into The Legal Lineup
Representing Coinbase is the veteran William Savitt of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Savitt, who co-chairs the litigation group, and is no stranger to high-stakes corporate battles, having previously represented Twitter in their Delaware court confrontation with Elon Musk concerning his massive $44 billion acquisition of the platform.
Further bolstering Coinbase’s defense is Steve Peikin from Sullivan & Cromwell, known for his tenure as an SEC enforcement leader during the Trump administration. Peikin’s deep understanding of the regulatory framework is said to be an asset to Coinbase. Notably, he is also serving as a counsel to FTX Trading in an unrelated US bankruptcy court proceeding in Delaware.
The Binance defense, on the other hand, is being led by Douglas Yatter, a partner at Latham & Watkins, who also serves as vice-chairman of the firm’s white-collar defense group. Yatter, the founder of the firm’s digital assets practice, brings to the table his experience defending BitMEX co-founder Samuel Reed in a Manhattan-based criminal prosecution in 2020.
Other critical players in Binance’s defense include Richard Grime of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, representing Binance Holdings, and William McLucas of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, who represents BAM Trading Services, the operator behind Binance.US.
The Stakes Of The SEC Lawsuits
As legal proceedings unfold, the SEC has initiated lawsuits against Coinbase, with the proceedings taking place in Manhattan’s federal court.
This followed shortly after the regulatory body targeted Binance, the world’s preeminent cryptocurrency exchange, with claims filed in the federal court based in Washington, D.C. Further highlighting the gravity of these situations, SEC officials have also leveled suits against Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, and the entity responsible for running Binance’s U.S. exchange platform.
The SEC alleges that Binance, through its token offerings, engaged in the sale of unregistered securities. They also argue that these offerings were not compliant with existing securities laws. For Coinbase, the SEC claims that their ‘Lend’ product, offering an interest rate to their customers, is a security, and should have been registered with the agency.
In a parallel but connected case, Coinbase, represented by Gibson Dunn lawyers, requested the Philadelphia-based 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals to mandate the SEC to draft new rules for digital assets. The team is led by former US Labor Secretary, Eugene Scalia, a well-established figure in the field of administrative and regulatory law.
Meanwhile, the crypto market has shown a slight recovery from yesterday’s plunge. Over the past 24 hours, the global crypto market has risen by nearly 3% with a value standing firmly above $1.1 trillion.
Featured image from Unsplash, Chart from TradingView