Robinhood On SEC Issuing Wells Notice: “We’re Disappointed”

Shares of Robinhood Markets (NASDAQ: HOOD) saw a 2% decline in premarket trading, reacting to the revelation that the trading app operator received a “Wells Notice” from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The notice, disclosed by the company, indicates that the SEC staff has recommended pursuing an enforcement action against Robinhood for potential violations of the Securities Exchange Act.

The Wells Notice follows an earlier SEC investigation into Robinhood’s cryptocurrency listings, custody of cryptocurrencies, and platform operations. Robinhood Crypto, LLC (RHC), a subsidiary of Robinhood, had previously received investigative subpoenas regarding these activities and has cooperated with the investigation.

In its filing, Robinhood stated, “On May 4, 2024, RHC received a ‘Wells Notice’ from the Staff of the SEC (the ‘Staff’) stating that the Staff has advised RHC that it made a ‘preliminary determination’ to recommend that the SEC file an enforcement action against RHC alleging violations of Sections 15(a) and 17A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.”

The potential enforcement action could involve various measures, including civil injunctive actions, public administrative proceedings, or cease-and-desist proceedings. Remedies sought by the SEC may include injunctions, cease-and-desist orders, disgorgement, pre-judgment interest, civil penalties, and regulatory actions such as censure, revocation, and limitations on activities.

However, this is not the first time the commission has issued a Wells Notice on the topic of crypto. The Wells notice, like a warning signal from the SEC, is a tool used to indicate potential enforcement action against individuals or businesses after an inquiry. Last year, the SEC targeted Paxos Trust for allegedly breaking investor protection laws by issuing the stablecoin Binance USD (BUSD), which the SEC sees as an unregistered security. Paxos disputes this, arguing that BUSD is not a security under federal law because it’s always backed 1:1 with US dollars in segregated accounts.

In response to the Wells Notice, Robinhood expressed disappointment and reaffirmed its commitment to regulatory compliance and transparency.

“After years of good faith attempts to work with the SEC for regulatory clarity including our well-known attempt to ‘come in and register,’ we are disappointed that the agency has decided to issue a Wells Notice related to our U.S. crypto business,” said Dan Gallagher, Chief Legal, Compliance and Corporate Affairs Officer. “We firmly believe that the assets listed on our platform are not securities and we look forward to engaging with the SEC to make clear just how weak any case against Robinhood Crypto would be on both the facts and the law.”

Robinhood said it has been discerning in its decisions, opting not to list certain tokens or offer products such as lending and staking, which the SEC has previously categorized as securities in actions against other platforms. Additionally, the company responded to the SEC’s directives by attempting to register a special purpose broker-dealer with the agency.

Despite this development, Robinhood reassured its customers that their accounts and the services provided will remain unaffected.

Robinhood last traded at $17.95 on the NASDAQ.

Information for this briefing was found via Market Watch and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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