SEC and DOJ Launch Probes Against Silicon Valley Bank: Report

Both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are reportedly investigating the now-collapsed Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) after depositors to the bank were bailed out by regulators on Sunday. 

The separate investigations will both examine the stock sales of SVB’s executives moments before the bank collapsed.

  • The agencies’ investigations are still at a preliminary stage and will not necessarily lead to allegations or charges, according to the Wall Street Journal
  • Similar investigations are common following the failure of financial institutions and crypto-native firms alike. The SEC and CFTC were quick to launch investigations into FTX shortly after the firm froze withdrawals in November, before laying charges against the firm in December. 
  • SVB CEO Greg Becker sold $3.6 million worth of stock days before the bank failed on Friday, and acquired options worth $1.3 million, according to a regulatory filing. 
  • However, Becker had pre-arranged the sale as early as January 26 in line with SEC rules against insider trading.
  • The same executive told the bank’s depositors to “stay calm” on Thursday after a Wednesday announcement from the firm unveiled that it had realized a $1.8 billion loss after selling its $21 billion bond portfolio to restructure its balance sheet.
  • Depositors nevertheless flew for the exits, attempting to withdraw $42 billion from the firm late Thursday. Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund even called on investors to do just that. 
  • The firm’s shareholders were not included in its depositor-focused bailout, and its senior management has been entirely removed.
  • The SEC has probed a range of crypto firms including Kraken and Binance over concerns that such exchanges have issued or sold unregistered securities

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