SEC Leader Resigns, Stating ‘Crypto Is Here To Stay’ Following Bitcoin ETF Approvals

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Ladan Stewart, a prominent figure in the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) crypto division, has left her position to join White & Case, a renowned law firm based in the United States. 

Stewart, who has led the SEC’s crypto and cyber litigation unit since September 2022, played a pivotal role in overseeing significant litigation involving major players in the cryptocurrency industry, as reported by Bloomberg Law. 

However, Stewart’s latest career move indicates a shift in her professional focus away from hostile engagements with the nascent crypto industry.

Stewart’s Key Role In Legal Battle Against Ripple And Coinbase

According to the report, one of Stewart’s notable cases involved leading the lawsuit against Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States by trading volume, in June 2023. As Bitcoinist reported, the lawsuit accused Coinbase of operating as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency. 

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In addition, Stewart was part of the SEC team that engaged in a multi-sided legal battle with blockchain payments company Ripple over whether the XRP token should be classified as an unregistered security under the Howey test.

Stewart’s departure from the SEC comes when the agency is appealing a New York federal judge’s ruling that Ripple’s XRP token is not a security when sold to the general public, contradicting the SEC’s stance that most digital tokens are securities.

From SEC Enforcement To Crypto Legal Defense? 

According to Bloomberg Law’s report, joining White & Case as a partner in the firm’s white-collar defense group, Stewart aims to develop a “robust practice” specializing in crypto and cyber defense

Stewart emphasized the importance of the crypto industry’s staying power, especially with the recent launch of several Bitcoin Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) on January 12.

Given the industry’s complexity and turbulent enforcement landscape, Stewart believes that legal questions surrounding digital assets will continue to be at the forefront. Stewart stated:

Crypto is here to stay—that’s become very clear with the launch of a slew of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds. Given the complexity and the turbulent enforcement arena, legal questions surrounding crypto are going to be at the forefront for some time.

White & Case, on the other hand, has a global presence spanning over 40 offices and a team of more than 2,600 lawyers and is recognized as one of the largest law firms in the United States. The firm’s major clients include industry giants such as Microsoft, Abbvie Inc., and GoldenTree Asset Management. 

Stewart’s experience and expertise in navigating the regulatory landscape surrounding cryptocurrencies will be a valuable asset to White & Case, especially given the heightened regulatory scrutiny the digital asset industry has faced in recent years, said Joel Cohen, head of White & Case’s White Collar Group, in a statement.

The daily chart shows the total crypto market cap’s valuation at $1.88. Source: TOTAL on TradingView.com

Featured image from Shutterstock, chart from TradingView.com 



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