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The securities and exchange commission has granted a request by the Bats BZX Exchange, Inc. to review its decision of disapproving the bitcoin ETF back in March this year. According to a document signed by Eduardo A. Aleman, Assistant Secretary at the SEC:

“The petition of BZX for review of the Division’s action to disapprove the proposed rule change by delegated authority be GRANTED; and It is further ORDERED that any party or other person may file a statement in support of or in opposition to the action made pursuant to delegated authority on or before May 15, 2017.”

Aleman is the person who, through delegated authority, made the decision on March the 10th which some in the bitcoin community saw as an intentional slap. In a fairly angry article back then, I wrote:

“How can one man have so much power? We were told there will be a vote, but apparently, the SEC commissioners didn’t think this decision was important, delegating it to Aleman. Then, what’s the point of the commissioners?… Delegating this decision to a faceless bureaucrat is an insult. For them to hide behind an Assistant Secretary, not even a Secretary, is an intentional slap.

The decision document mentions a specific date, data analyzed by the 28th of February. That’s almost two weeks ago. Could he have not released the decision then? Did he have to allow so much speculation? Was it an intentional insult to the entire bitcoin community for this clearly already long ago made decision to be released at the very last hour? Who knew of the decision before it was released? Did any of them trade the market?”


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Aleman’s reasons for rejecting the ETF was because he wanted a surveillance sharing agreement between exchanges and because he said much of the trading was carried out in unregulated Chinese bitcoin exchanges.

The latter part was out of date even at the time of the decision. PBoC has moved in, laying out some red lines for Chinese exchanges. Aleman further said Gemini lacks liquidity, but that’s mainly because traders naturally go to exchanges with futures and margins, two necessary facilities that CFTC continues to deny to regulated American exchanges such as Gemini and Coinbase.

It is surprising, however, that the decision is now to be reviewed. Even more so because the person who rejected the ETF, Aleman, has approved the review of his own decision. It is still too early to say how this review will be carried out, but one thing I hope we can say for sure is that Aleman will have no further part in any of it.

That’s for obvious reasons which do not even need to be stated. One can’t review their own decision in an institutional context. It’s like carrying a judicial appeal in front of the same judge who clearly has already reached a decision against you.

This review should be carried out at the commissioners’ level. To them, I say what I said just a day before Aleman’s decision, a day when I thought it was the commissioners who were to decide, specifically the acting chairman of the SEC:

“Dr. Piwowar, open the doors for business. Welcome innovation. And not by default approval. Stand in front of the world and show that America has two parties, show that this administration means free market capitalism, hail the geniuses who bring new things to this world, lift the spirits of this great nation.”

Featured image from Flickr/ Noam Galai.

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Posted by Andrew Quentson

Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with any information you may have.