3 - 5 minute read
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned investors to be “very wary” of relying on proof-of-reserve audits conducted by crypto companies. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the SEC’s acting chief accountant, Paul Munter, stated that the results of these audits do not necessarily indicate that a company is in a good financial position. He added that these reports “lack” the necessary information for stakeholders to determine whether a company has sufficient assets to meet its liabilities.
Munter’s warning comes as the crypto market experiences extreme volatility and a number of major exchanges have gone bankrupt, including Three Capital Arrows, Celsius, and FTX. In response to these events, some crypto firms have commissioned proof-of-reserves audits in an effort to allay concerns about their own financial stability. However, Munter emphasized that investors should not blindly trust these audits and should carefully evaluate the financial health of a company before making any investment decisions.
If Binance’s reserve stablecoins hold their peg; if Binance can provide true proof of reserves and bona-fide audited financials; if there’s no bank run on Binance; if USDOJ opts not to hit Binance with criminal charges, everything will be fine. Wait, what?https://t.co/Cw82u6OTHG— John Reed Stark (@JohnReedStark) December 20, 2022
In addition to his warning about proof-of-reserve audits, Munter also expressed frustration about the constantly evolving structure of crypto firms. He indicated that if the SEC uncovers “troublesome” fact patterns, it may refer the matter to the division of enforcement for further review. This suggests that the SEC is taking a more active role in regulating the crypto industry and is committed to protecting investors from fraudulent or risky practices.
It is worth noting that the SEC’s warning about proof-of-reserve audits comes on the heels of criticism from John Reed Stark, the former chief of the SEC’s Internet Enforcement division. Stark raised a “red flag” on Twitter over Binance’s proof-of-reserve report, stating that it did not address the effectiveness of internal financial controls or provide any assurance or opinion conclusions. This further highlights the need for caution when relying on these audits as a sole measure of a company’s financial health.
The SEC’s warning about proof-of-reserve audits serves as a reminder that investors should thoroughly research and carefully evaluate the financial stability of any crypto company before making an investment. While proof-of-reserve audits can provide some useful information, they should not be relied upon as the sole indicator of a company’s financial health. Instead, investors should consider a range of factors, including the company’s financial performance, management team, and overall business model, in order to make informed investment decisions.