Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest snaps up Coinbase stock following SEC lawsuit

While other investors piled out of Coinbase stock (COIN), Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest cashed in.

Wood’s flagship fund, the ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK), bought more than 400,000 shares of the crypto exchange on Tuesday, worth over $20 million as of yesterday’s close, according to a daily trade notification. The purchase came on the heels of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) lawsuit against the crypto firm, which sent shares of Coinbase lower by as much as 16%.

On Wednesday, Coinbase stock rebounded by more than 3% in afternoon trading following the revelation, while shares of ARKK were down by 1%.

Wood has been a longtime proponent of crypto, and Ark Invest has largely continued to build its stake in Coinbase despite increased regulatory scrutiny (though it did sell some stock last July when the SEC announced its investigation into crypto exchange).

On Tuesday, Ark saw another buying opportunity as Coinbase stock took a beating after the SEC expanded its crackdown on crypto.

The SEC filed a lawsuit alleging Coinbase violated securities laws by operating its crypto asset trading platform as an unregistered securities exchange, broker, and clearing agency as well as by failing to register the offer and sale of its crypto asset staking-as-a-service program.

Coinbase took to Twitter to defend itself against the SEC’s allegations. Co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong outlined several points in response to the legal action, tweeting: “The SEC and CFTC have made conflicting statements, and don’t even agree on what is a security and what is a commodity.”

Mark Palmer, senior equity research analyst at Berenberg Capital Markets, told Yahoo Finance (video above) that the crackdown on Coinbase shouldn’t have come as a surprise and that “the upshot here is that the dragnet that the SEC has put out against crypto continues.”

SEC comes for crypto

Coinbase isn’t the only big player landing in the crosshairs of federal regulators; the action by the SEC marks the second time in as many days that the agency has leveled legal charges against crypto companies.

On Monday, the target was Coinbase’s rival Binance. The SEC filed a complaint alleging that Binance operated illegal platforms to offer and sell crypto asset securities to US investors, among other violations. The SEC followed up its action against Binance on Tuesday evening by seeking a court order to freeze and repatriate the assets of two of its units.

Cathie Wood, CEO of Ark Invest, speaks during a panel discussion at a Bitcoin Conference, April 7, 2022, in Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Regulators have followed through with their threat of cracking down on crypto, particularly in the wake of the collapse of FTX in November 2022. At the heart of the issue, crypto players argue that tokens are not securities, whereas the SEC disagrees.

“The one thing that was a bit of a twist [in the Coinbase lawsuit] is the fact that the SEC focused on 13 tokens in particular that it identified as securities that Coinbase trades,” Palmer said. “Big names in there — solana, cardano, polygon, as well as 10 others that are less well known.”

While the enforcement actions are not “ideal,” according to Moffett Nathanson Partner Lisa Ellis, they are a “necessary” step toward crypto adoption.

“We’ve needed regulatory clarity in the United States for many years now,” Ellis told Yahoo Finance Live. “And the SEC in some ways has been sort of holding the industry hostage over the last year, year and a half by sort of trickling out these enforcement actions but not having a constructive dialogue about what issues they’re really concerned about or not and kind of narrowing that and moving it forward in terms of establishing the right set of regulations.”

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