Cryptocurrency prices have been surging recently, while regulators look to crackdown on the sector.
Bitcoin (~BTCUSD) was up slightly to $20,840.92 on Jan. 19, according to data firm CoinGecko. Ether, the native currency of the ethereum blockchain, added nearly 1% to $1,535.80, while dogecoin was flat as $0.081013.
“The crypto market has witnessed its largest gains in recent months, climbing to nearly $1 trillion in total marketcap,” said Billy Endres, a cryptocurrency expert with Finder. “The bullish shift was led by Bitcoin and Ethereum with both major cryptocurrencies gaining +20% since the new year.”
Endres said that there has since been a minor retracement, with Bitcoin trading at around $20,700 and Ethereum holding above $1,500.
“However, this pullback is to be expected,” he said. “As is often the case during periods of bullish momentum, traders opt to take profits on larger marketcap cryptos and diversify into altcoins.”
Crypto Sentiment is Mixed
Altcoins are considered to be all cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin and Ether.
Endres said if Bitcoin and Ether support remains strong at key levels, capital will likely flow into altcoins, which could lead to significant moves to the upside.
“Although things look positive, sentiment is mixed,” he said. “Some traders are claiming that this is nothing more than a bull trap and that the downtrend will soon resume.”
On the regulatory front, Winston Ma, adjunct professor at New York University Law School, said the U.S. legal crackdown on crypto – especially from the Securities and Exchange Committee–is intensifying.
On Jan. 12, the SEC charged Genesis Global Capital and Gemini Trust with the unregistered offer and sale of securities through the Gemini Earn crypto asset lending program, which Ma said “racked up huge losses for customers.”
According to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, they violated securities laws by failing to adhere to “disclosure requirements designed to protect investors”.
“With high profile precedents like this, federal securities laws are likely to be applied more broadly and actively in the cryptocurrency world than before,” Ma, author of Blockchain and Web3: Building the Cryptocurrency, Privacy, and Security Foundations of the Metaverse. “
“This could be a big moment, as regulators close in on some of the biggest names in the crypto asset markets,” he added. “The SEC enforcement actions will set the tone for cryptocurrency regulations in 2023, as the crypto-related lawmaking is still not immediately visible.”
Big Names Caught up in FTX Scandal
The FTX scandal has been keeping regulators busy as they prepare their case against Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, who faces a series of criminal and civil charges.
Tom Brady and his ex-wife Gisele Bundchen were both FTX ambassadors and shareholders, according to a court document. The former star couple promoted the cryptocurrency exchange in several commercials.
Billionaire Dan Loeb, through his hedge fund Third Point LLC, also owned a significant amount of shares of entities in the Bankman-Fried empire.
David Lesperance, managing partner of immigration and tax adviser with Lesperance & Associates said that “while the public enjoyed the outing of various celebrities and high profile investors of FTX, the bankruptcy courts granted a three-month temporary reprieve to FTX account holders.”
“However, those account holders in companies like FTX or Celsius better use this type of reprieve to get their tax house in order,” he said. “Any prior illusions about ‘privacy’ or ‘secrecy’ in crypto are blown up in a bankruptcy, as under bankruptcy laws those who lent their crypto will be named publicly as ‘creditors’. This will happen whether or not they want it to happen.”
Lesperance said if the crypto holder had not properly complied with the tax laws of their jurisdiction because they mistakenly thought it was “secret,” then the tax authorities will find out and take appropriate action ranging from audit to being charged with tax evasion.
“This is true, even if they lost everything–i.e. injury on top of insult,” he said.