U.S. SEC disapproves proposed rule to list, trade shares of VanEck bitcoin trust

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The SEC logo
FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo/File Photo

November 12, 2021

By Katanga Johnson

(Reuters) -The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday rejected rule changes that would have allowed the listing and trading of the VanEck bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF).

In March, the Cboe BZX Exchange Inc filed a proposed rule change to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust under BZX Rule.

“The Commission applies the same standard used in its orders considering previous proposals to list bitcoin-based commodity trusts and bitcoin-based trust issued receipts — that it must be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices,” the SEC said in its order.

“The Commission concludes that BZX has not met its burden.”

The move by the SEC comes after the regulator has twice delayed a decision on whether to approve an application.

The agency has not stopped futures-based bitcoin ETFs from going forward.

Analysts say the regulator is worried it is does not have proper surveillance over crypto exchanges to ensure adequate investor protections are in place.

Any entity requesting rule changes related to exchange listing a derivative securities product must agree to enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement with markets trading the underlying assets.

This allows the agency “to obtain information necessary to detect, investigate, and deter fraud and market manipulation, as well as violations of exchange rules and applicable federal securities laws,” the SEC said in its order.

Any future adoption of a bitcoin ETF by SEC Chair Gary Gensler could be key for mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies as it would allow financial institutions and retail traders to gain exposure without having to invest directly, analysts added.

VanEck filed its ETF proposal at the end of 2020, with Cboe BZX agreeing to act as VanEck’s exchange partner earlier this year.

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson in Washington; Editing by Diane Craft, Andrea Ricci and Jonathan Oatis)