The regulator accused Kraken of operating an unregistered securities exchange, broker, dealer, and clearing agency. It alleged that Kraken has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue since 2018 by illegally facilitating the purchase and sales of securities without registering with the SEC, as is required by law.
The SEC additionally said that the company’s failure to register has prevented customers from receiving protections such as regulatory inspections, safeguards against conflicts of interest, and compliance with recordkeeping requirements.
Furthermore, the SEC said that Kraken commingled customer and corporate funds, including by paying operational costs from accounts that held user funds. Kraken’s own auditor reportedly identified the firm’s practices as a “significant risk of loss” for users.
Though not identical in content, the complaint appears to be similar in scope to charges that the SEC filed against Coinbase and Binance in June. The current complaint is 90 pages long and covers most of Kraken’s exchange and trading operations.
The SEC seeks fines and injunctions, or restrictions on activities, through its complaint. Kraken and its co-founder Jesse Powell have not commented on the case so far.
Kraken has previously faced government action
The SEC has filed one other charge against Kraken in the past. In February, it charged the company over its cryptocurrency staking service. Kraken soon reached a $30 million settlement and agreed to stop providing staking to U.S. customers.
Outside of those SEC charges, a case between Kraken and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) concluded this summer. Kraken was compelled to surrender some, but not all, customer information that had previously been requested by the IRS. Kraken announced that it would turn over the required data to the tax agency in October.
Kraken handles significant trading volumes on a daily basis. Current data from Coingecko indicates that the company handled $808 million over 24 hours on Nov. 20.