SEC director who called Ethereum ‘sufficiently decentralized’ to leave agency later this year

An early voice on decentralization and crypto guidance within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is leaving the agency. Director of the Division of Corporation Finance Bill Hinman will leave his post later this year, according to an SEC statement.

Hinman has led the division since May of 2017, and much of his work centered on modernizing and improving disclosure and securities offering framework. He also created the Commission’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub), a program for engaging with fintech industry players on regulatory issues related to digital assets. 

Hinman is perhaps most remembered in crypto circles for his 2018 speech “When Howey Met Gary,” which argued that digital assets whose networks are “sufficiently decentralized” are something other than securities.

In that speech, Hinman singled out the Ethereum network as having a sufficiently decentralized structure, and said for that reason he didn’t view ether as a security. At that same conference one year later, Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) chair Heath Tarbert declared Ethereum a commodity. Still, what constitutes a sufficiently decentralized network has yet to be completely defined by regulators.

The SEC has not said when exactly Hinman will step down. Upon his departure, Shelley Parratt, currently the deputy director of Hinman’s corporation finance division, will take over as acting director. 

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