SEC's Head of Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit Departs Agency



A key member of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) enforcement brass for digital assets announced his departure from the agency Friday after serving for nine years.

“This past Friday was my last day with the SEC,” wrote David Hirsch, who previously led the SEC’s Crypto Asset and Cyber Unit in the Division of Enforcement, on LinkedIn.

Hirsch stepped in to lead the unit in October 2022, as the crypto market reeled in the face of several high-profile blowups, culminating in the collapse of FTX. Before that, he got his start at the agency in 2015 while working as an enforcement attorney in Fort Worth, Texas.

In his LinkedIn post, Hirsch said that he was “very excited for the next set of challenges,” but did not signal where that could be. He said he would share more details in due time, however, following a break and personal time with his family.

“I’m particularly proud of the historic work done by the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit team [that] I had the privilege to lead,” he wrote. “As I often say, securities enforcement is a team sport, and that was certainly true throughout my tenure.”

During his time at the agency, the SEC embarked on an aggressive campaign of crypto enforcement actions in FTX’s wake—targeting companies behind other billion-dollar collapses like Terraform Labs, as well as several exchanges allegedly violating securities laws.

A year ago, Hirsch highlighted the SEC’s civil lawsuit against Coinbase as an “excellent investigation by a really great team.” The former leader at the SEC also expressed similar praise for enforcement actions against the crypto exchanges Binance and Kraken.

The SEC’s lawsuits against Coinbase and Binance—launched separately within a handful of days—are still ongoing. Paying a $30 million fine, Kraken settled with the regulator last year, while agreeing to pare back certain services.

Several months before Hirsch stepped in to lead the enforcement division’s crypto and cyber unit, the team meant to protect investors from crypto-related threats added dozens of positions.

“By nearly doubling the size of this key unit, the SEC will be better equipped to police wrongdoing in the crypto markets,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler remarked at the time.

Hirsch’s departure comes amid growing attention toward crypto on the campaign trail, gaining steam as an issue that could potentially sway voters come November. Political pressure was widely noted by analysts as a reason why spot Ethereum ETFs were abruptly approved in May.

The crackdown on crypto during Hirsch’s tenure has been referenced at times by former president Donald Trump. When the presumptive Republican presidential nominee came out swinging for crypto months ago, he blasted the SEC’s aggressive streak of behavior.

“Crypto is moving out of the U.S. because of hostility towards crypto,” Trump said. “We’ll stop it because I don’t want that—if we’re going to embrace it, we have to let them be here.”

Edited by Andrew Hayward



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