Market manipulation claims will be hardest ‘nut to crack’ in Bitcoin ETF approval — WisdomTree

Regulation

Will Peck, the head of digital assets at exchange-traded fund provider WisdomTree said regulators in the United States will “ultimately get there” on approving a Bitcoin spot investment vehicle, but dealing with claims of market manipulation could be a challenge.

Speaking to Cointelegraph at the Converge22 conference in San Francisco on Sept. 29, Peck said WisdomTree would not follow Grayscale by taking legal action against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for denying its Bitcoin (BTC) ETF application. According to Peck, the company planned to “engage more productively” with the SEC without a lawsuit, but tackling some of the regulator’s reasons for turning down spot Bitcoin ETF applications could take time.

“We’re all kind of watching this and seeing what’s going to happen,” said Peck. “The reasons that [the SEC has] given have really been around potential for market manipulation — that Bitcoin trading does not happen on regulated venues […] There’s been some questions in the past of custody, the ability of qualified custodians, whether banks or otherwise to be able to custody crypto assets on behalf of a registered firm like this.”

He added:

“I think it seems that the first one around market manipulation’s kind of the hardest nut to crack, where there’s been the biggest slowdown.”

Peck said that the firm would continue to engage with U.S. regulators over an ETF offering. WisdomTree has several exchange-traded products linked to different cryptocurrencies in Europe, and has filed more than one application with the SEC for a spot Bitcoin ETF offering in the United States. The SEC rejected one of the company’s applications in December 2021, after which WisdomTree amended its filing to name U.S. Bank as a crypto custodian for its Bitcoin trust.

Related: Self-custody isn’t for everyone: WisdomTree exec on ‘be your own bank’

While Grayscale’s legal actions against the SEC over its ETF offering are ongoing, the firm’s chief legal officer Craig Salm suggested it could take from one to two years for a resolution. The U.S. regulator began approving investment vehicles linked to BTC derivatives for the first time in October 2021, but has turned down spot Bitcoin ETF applications from 16 companies, often saying the investment vehicles were not “designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practice.”

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