Steven Lee Speaks With Law360 Pulse About Trends in Cryptocurrency-Related Enforcement Actions

Atlanta, Ga. (December 8, 2023) – Atlanta/Savannah Partner Steven Lee recently spoke with Law360 Pulse regarding trends in cryptocurrency-related enforcement actions in 2023, particularly as it related to Binance Holdings Ltd.’s payment of a record $4.3 billion fine to end a years long U.S. Department of Justice probe into money laundering and sanctions violations. At the time, Binance was the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange platform.

The article, titled “How the Big Cases of 2023 Stung General Counsel,” highlighted the Binance case as one of the six cases from 2023 that will have a lasting effect on the law, corporations and general counsel.

Mr. Lee told Pulse that the cryptocurrency cases of 2023, including but not limited to Binance, are significant because “they will likely temporarily slow the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency in the United States as an alternative, decentralized financial instrument.”

"It signals to the entire world that the largest cryptocurrency exchange and its executives can be subject to U.S. federal criminal law,” he continued.

Mr. Lee observed that the Binance case indicates that the DOJ is “bringing law and order in a space that was once largely viewed as a virtual ‘Wild Wild West,’” and emphasized the importance of companies maintaining robust corporate governance and internal controls to avoid similar problems to those faced by cryptocurrency exchanges in 2023.

He concluded that it remains to be seen "whether Congress or the courts will define cryptocurrency as a 'security' in the coming year as the [U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] cases proceed [against Binance.]"

“If cryptocurrency is defined as a security, the designation will allow federal authorities to pursue a wide range of securities-related criminal and civil charges against the exchanges and their founders,” Mr. Lee explained.

Mr. Lee serves as vice chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Government Investigations & White Collar Defense Practice. As a former federal prosecutor, he focuses his practice on government and internal corporate investigations as well as complex litigation matters. 

Read the full article on Law360 Pulse here (subscription may be required).

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