Valerie A. Szczepanik is associate director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Corporation Finance. Szczepanik also serves as senior advisor for the director of the Corporation Finance Division, William Hinman. Szczepanik coordinates 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.
Szczepanik joined the SEC in 1997 and most recently 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.
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 ETP, or exchange-traded fund.
Valerie Szczepanik was given the nickname "Crypto Czar" 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 SINET Innovation 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.
In March 2019, Szczepanik told a crowd at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas that certain types of stablecoins may be regulatable 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."
Road Trip 2019
In March 2019, Szczepanik announced she would begin a road trip in late March in order 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 be visiting several U.S. cities, starting at the SEC's San Francisco office in March 26. The next trip is planned for early May in Denver, CO.
Szczepanik received a J.D. from Georgetown Law and a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
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