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Author Ben McKenzie Attacks Cryptocurrency and Wash Trading in New Interview

2 mins
Updated by Ali M.
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In Brief

  • Actor-author Ben Mckenzie urges for cryptocurrencies to be classified as securities, ensuring investor protection.
  • McKenzie's comments follow his latest book launch, where he criticizes the lack of regulation in crypto.
  • In an NBC interview, he also warns against the rising incidence of wash trading in the crypto industry.
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Actor and author Ben McKenzie, known for his prominent role in ‘The OC, states that cryptocurrencies should be classified as securities. He also cautions against the rising occurrence of wash trading in the industry.

Having adopted the stance of a crypto critic, McKenzie’s comments follow the launch of his book ‘Easy Money.’ The book argues that the lack of regulation in crypto holds the potential for significant losses among individuals.

Ben McKenzie: Cryptocurrencies Should Be A Security

During an interview with NBC News on Aug. 16, McKenzie strongly supports categorizing cryptocurrencies as securities. He believes that enforcing this classification will make the industry much safer for investors, protecting them against fraud.

“I don’t think it would have gotten this bad,” he asserts.

Financial institutions must adhere to more stringent investor protection regulations when a regulatory authority deems an asset as a security.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) believes that many cryptocurrencies constitute securities. It bases this belief on the standards established under the Securities Act 1933 and previous landmark court decisions.

The case SEC v W.J Howey Co established the “Howey Test” to ascertain whether a transaction qualifies as an investment contract akin to a security. This test examines whether a person invests in a collaborative venture and expects profits primarily from the efforts of others.

However, the SEC’s legal pursuit of Ripple, alleging the sale of unregistered securities through its native token XRP, didn’t entirely favor the regulator.

In the lawsuit SEC v Ripple, Ripple secured a partial victory. The ruling on July 13 clarifies that XRP, when sold on public exchanges, is not categorized as a security. This is due to its non-qualification as an investment contract.

To learn more about common crypto scams, read BeInCrypto’s guide: 15 Most Common Crypto Scams To Look Out For

Wash Trading In Recent Times

McKenzie further highlights the increasing use of wash trading in the industry as a warning to new investors.

He argues the “pseudonymity of the blockchain” enables people to create multiple accounts, making it impossible to determine its owners. This opens the door to the potential for wash trading.

In wash trading, users shuffle money and assets among themselves instead of buying or selling. Market participants use this illicit tactic to artificially inflate asset prices or give the illusion of increased activity.

McKenzie claims that there is a significantly higher amount of wash trading than what people commonly perceive:

“I read a story recently that looked at 29 crypto exchanges, and found 70% wash trading among the unregulated.”

On July 24, reports emerged that the SEC had accused Binance.US of inflating its trading volumes, with allegations pointing to its CEO, Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao.

According to the report, the SEC contends that Binance.US boosted trading volumes by utilizing numerous accounts managed by Sigma Chain, a Swiss trading firm controlled by Zhao.

Top crypto platforms in the US | February 2024



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Ciaran Lyons
Ciaran is a cryptocurrency journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He particularly enjoys writing about CBDC developments and the practical implementations of cryptocurrency in real-world scenarios. He has also appeared across major television networks in Australia including Channel Ten, Channel Nine and SBS TV. Prior to his foray into cryptocurrency, Ciaran worked as a presenter on national radio station Triple J.