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Kraken's New CEO Flips the Bird at SEC, Declines to List Crypto Assets as Securities

Dave Ripley is taking over as the crypto exchange head Friday from ever controversial Jesse Powell, but apparently Kraken wants to remain a black sheep.

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A phone with the kraken logo in front of a screen bearing financial data
Kraken’s new CEO isn’t shying away from making controversial and anti-regulatory pronouncements out the starting gate.
Photo: Sergei Elagin (Shutterstock)

The newest head of one of the more controversial crypto exchanges apparently isn’t backing down from his company’s reputation of making controversial, anti-regulatory pronouncements.

Incoming CEO of the oft-controversial crypto exchange Kraken, Dave Ripley told Reuters Wednesday that he’s not planning to delist any tokens that have been cited as securities by the Securities and Exchange Commission or register with the SEC at all.


Ripley further told Reuters that the multitudes of coins listed on Kraken aren’t securities, adding that if another crypto token rears its head “that becomes interesting and also happens to simultaneously be a security” they would head in the way toward registering. Though as much as they might claim that they don’t list any securities tokens, the agency they’re pushing back against disagrees.

The thing is, the SEC is reportedly in the middle of investigating fellow crypto exchange Coinbase over those exact issues. Though the agency hasn’t made any formal announcement of that investigation into whether the exchange hasn’t listed securities, they have filed securities fraud charges against a former project manager at the company.


The SEC said the project manager had bought 25 types of crypto assets, calling nine of those securities. Coinbase has also regularly denied it offers securities on its platform. Coinbase’s chief legal officer Paul Grewal has claimed “Coinbase has a rigorous process to analyze and review each digital asset before making it available on our exchange—a process that the SEC itself has reviewed.” Coinbase lists over 150 different tokens.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler has repeatedly said that most crypto tokens fall under the auspices of his domain as securities. That does leave out some of the biggest coins like bitcoin and ether, although since the merge and the move to Proof of Stake, the situation around that latter cryptocurrency is now up in the air. It makes Ripley’s comments sound all the more like a total willingness to fight back against encroaching regulation.

The once-San Francisco-based Kraken announced its CEO swap Wednesday, saying then COO Ripley would be taking over from Jesse Powell. Ripley is stepping into the shoes of a company that boasts 9 million clients among its trading platforms. The company is also planning to launch its own NFT marketplace.

The SEC did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment. Though Coinbase has had to act defensively against the SEC’s inquiries, Kraken seems to be taking the opposite approach, screaming “come at me, bro” even while its being reportedly investigated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for allegedly allowing Iranian users to use the platform. Of course, Kraken isn’t the only exchange accused of letting users from sanctioned nations onto their platforms.


On his way out as Kraken’s leader, former CEO Powell told Protocol that he didn’t consider himself an “amazing manager.” Considering the amount of times he was cited for creating a hostile working environment, that’s putting things lightly. He instead said that he thought of himself as an individual product kind of guy. He often came off as a dudebro in interviews and in his tweets as he grew increasingly controversial over his tenure for his reported misogyny and willingness to conflate gender pronouns with “who can refer to another person as the N-word.”

Powell once tweeted “people get triggered by everything and can’t conform to basic rules of honest debate. Back to dictatorship.” In response to further condemnation, Powell said “I don’t know what to say to people who feel like they deserve some kind of a workplace where they don’t have to adhere to policies. If that comes off as authoritarian or whatever, you know, I guess that’s fine.”


Based on his statements, Powell now seems more interested in industry advocacy to fight back against encroaching industry regulation.