SEC Crypto Unit Leader Resigns After Leading Coinbase Lawsuit

SEC Crypto Unit Leader Resigns After Leading Coinbase Lawsuit

One of the most combative and vocal anti-crypto lawyers has decided to switch sectors. From working for the US government, Ladan Stewart has now opted to work in the private sector.

Part of the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ladan Stewart has now joined White & Case.

She will assist the international law firm in building its cyber defense and crypto practice.


In a recent interview, Stewart said that the launch of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) had made it quite clear that crypto is going to stay.

She said that legal questions related to crypto would be at the forefront for quite a while because of the turbulent enforcement arena and the complexity.

The announcement was a confirmation of what had already been revealed quietly last month in a court filing.

Stewart is withdrawing from the lawsuit that the securities regulator had filed against crypto exchange Coinbase in June after she helped spearhead the charges.

At that time, the regulatory body had accused Coinbase of not registering as a securities exchange and still listing several crypto tokens on its platform that were categorized as securities.

According to Coinbase, none of the tokens that are listed on its platform can be categorized as securities because they do not qualify as ‘investment contracts’.

The lawsuit

Last month, oral arguments were presented in the case and legal experts found the argument made by Coinbase quite optimistic and compelling.

They believe that there is a possibility that the lawsuit might be entirely dismissed, something that the crypto exchange is striving for.

This analysis from legal experts had come two days after Stewart opted to withdraw from the lawsuit as SEC’s counsel.

In December, Michael R. Dreeben, the lawyer for Paradigm and Andreessen Horowitz, withdrew from the case after submitting a brief in support of Coinbase’s arguments.

More details

It remains unclear as to what clients Stewart might take on as part of her employment at White & Case. Her profile on their website highlights her expertise in crypto litigation and enforcement.

It states that she can provide clients with advice to navigate the ever-changing regulatory landscape relating to the crypto industry.

The company has previously represented some big names, which include GoldenTree Asset Management, Abbvie Inc., and Microsoft.

Eric Balchunas, the Bloomberg ETF analyst, White & Case had also advised Fidelity on legal issues relating to its bitcoin ETF product.

Initially, the SEC had been very reluctant to approve spot Bitcoin ETFs because of market manipulation concerns.

However, in August, the securities regulator lost a major lawsuit to Grayscale in which it was ordered to reconsider the asset manager’s application.

This prompted the regulator to finally approve this investment product last month. Since their approval, Bitcoin ETFs have seen net flows of more than $5 billion.