The United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Commissioner Hester Peirce recently expressed her concerns regarding the regulator’s approach to transparency in the cryptocurrency industry. In a tweet on July 27, Peirce questioned why the SEC wants to discourage good-faith efforts to provide more transparency for the crypto scene. Her comments were in response to a statement made by the SEC Chief Accountant, Paul Munter.
Munter had warned that accounting firms conducting “audit” duties for crypto firms could face censure or suspension if their findings are misrepresented. He emphasized the importance of accurate reporting and stated that accounting firms should not give the impression that non-audit arrangements are as rigorous or comprehensive as financial statement audits.
While Peirce acknowledged the need for crypto firms and their accountants to be transparent about proof of reserve, she argued that discouraging good-faith efforts to provide more transparency is not beneficial for the crypto industry. Peirce believes that transparency is essential for the growth and legitimacy of the industry, and that the SEC should support such efforts instead of discouraging them.
Munter highlighted the legal liabilities that accounting firms could face if their clients make material misstatements about the scope of their non-audit work. He warned that accounting firms engaging in non-audit work should be cautious about misleading marketing and terminology that may suggest these arrangements are on par with financial statement audits. According to Munter, non-audit arrangements are not as rigorous or comprehensive and may not provide reasonable assurance to investors.
Furthermore, Munter advised accounting firms to consider disassociating themselves from clients who make misleading statements or inform the SEC if necessary to maintain the integrity of the financial reporting system.
Following the collapse of FTX, several crypto firms quickly implemented a proof-of-reserve scheme to demonstrate evidence of their crypto holdings. However, this system faced significant criticism when auditors such as Mazars and Armanino dropped their crypto clients after their reports’ efficacy was questioned.
This incident highlights the importance of independent audits and accurate reporting in the crypto industry. It also emphasizes the need for transparency to build trust and credibility among investors.
Peirce’s questioning of the SEC’s stance on transparency efforts in the crypto industry raises important discussions about the regulator’s role in fostering growth and innovation. Instead of discouraging transparent practices, the SEC should work alongside crypto firms and their accountants to establish clear guidelines and standards that promote honesty and accuracy in reporting.
Transparency is crucial for the long-term success of the crypto industry and for attracting institutional investors. By supporting good-faith efforts to provide more transparency, the SEC can contribute to the development of a robust and trustworthy crypto ecosystem.
SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce’s critical stance on the regulator’s approach to transparency in the crypto industry highlights the need for a collaborative and supportive environment. Peirce argues that good-faith efforts to provide more transparency should be encouraged, rather than discouraged. The implications of misleading statements and the fallout from FTX’s collapse emphasize the importance of accurate reporting and independent audits in the crypto industry. Moving forward, collaboration between the SEC, crypto firms, and accounting firms is essential to establish clear guidelines and promote transparency for the growth and legitimacy of the industry. Ultimately, transparency plays a crucial role in building trust and attracting institutional investors to the crypto space.