Valerie Szczepanik

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Valerie Szczepanik
Valerie SZCZep.jpeg
Occupation Deputy Director, Senior Advisor
Employer Securities and Exchange Commission
Location Washington, DC
Website www.sec.gov

Valerie A. Szczepanik is a director at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She was named the first head of the SEC's Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology ("FinHub"), a unit in the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance. She continued in that role - becoming a director in the agency - when FinHub was taken out of the Division of Trading and Markets and elevated to be a stand-alone office reporting to the SEC's chairman on December 3, 2020.[1]

Szczepanik was associate director of the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance. Szczepanik served as senior advisor to the director of the division, William Hinman. Szczepanik coordinated efforts across all SEC divisions and offices regarding digital asset technologies and innovations, including initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies. She was appointed to that newly created role in June of 2018.[2]

Background[edit]

Szczepanik joined the SEC in 1997 and served as an assistant director in the Division of Enforcement’s Cyber Unit. She is the head of the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group, co-head of its Dark Web Working Group, and a member of its FinTech Working Group.

Szczepanik served as a special assistant United States attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. She clerked for federal judges on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and, prior to clerking, practiced patent law.[3]

In summer 2018, after serving as associate director of the SEC's Division of Corporation Finance for two months, Szczepanik told Bloomberg in an interview that she focuses on several controversial issues including the regulation of ICOs and the potential approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded product, like an ETF.[4]

"Crypto Czar"[edit]

Valerie Szczepanik was nicknamed "Crypto Czar" by the digital assets community when she was appointed the senior adviser for digital assets and innovation at the SEC. Since taking the position, she has worked to bring a greater understanding of the nature of digital assets to the general public. At the Security Innovation (SINET) Summit in New York City in 2018, Szczepanik said that the SEC is willing to meet with any and all entrepreneurs, legal advocates, or other people in the cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces to help develop innovative technology and businesses in ways that are compliant with U.S. laws.[5]

In March 2019, Szczepanik told a conference audience at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas that certain types of stablecoins may be regulated under the SEC's existing securities laws. She said that some existing stablecoins "could raise issues under" those laws, specifically, ones whose price is controlled by a single central party. She also said that the SEC may have to "look at the facts and circumstances" of each individual cryptocurrency project in order to discern which projects fall under securities laws. She also said that cryptocurrency companies should "ask permission" from the SEC before doing something that could potentially violate securities laws, rather than waiting until they have to "ask forgiveness."[6]

Road trip 2019[edit]

In March 2019, Szczepanik began a "road trip" to meet with representatives from various tech startups who might not otherwise be able to otherwise meet with Szczepanik and the SEC. The SEC's FinHub posted a notice on its website in early March saying that it would visit several U.S. cities, starting at the SEC's San Francisco office in March 26. [7][8]

Education[edit]

Szczepanik received a J.D. from Georgetown Law and a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

References[edit]

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