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SEC Announces Regional Office Closure Post-DEBT Box Ruling

Shalini Nagarajan
Last updated: | 1 min read
Debt Box

The SEC’s Salt Lake City office, recognized in the crypto community due to its unsuccessful litigation against DEBT Box, is set to close. This decision follows a notable decrease in its workforce, including individuals who departed due to reported involvement in the case.

The office’s closure means the SEC will have one fewer regional branch, going from 11 to 10.

In a June 4 notice, the SEC said the Salt Lake City office was its least-staffed location. It also recently lost a substantial number of employees.

SEC Cites ‘Efficiency’ for Salt Lake Office Closure After Staff Departures


Relatedly, two SEC lawyers, Michael Welsh and Joseph Watkins, who were based in the Salt Lake office, resigned in April. This followed a federal judge harshly criticizing the SEC for “gross abuse of power” by using false information to freeze the assets of Utah-based DEBT Box.

It’s currently uncertain if their resignations contributed to the “significant attrition” that the SEC mentioned.

“The agency considered its budget and organizational efficiency in deciding to close the office, and it has no plans to close any other regional offices,” the SEC said. “All current staff will be aligned to existing SEC organizational components based on their current functions and agency mission needs.”

Judge Deals SEC a $1.8M Penalty in DEBT Box Case


In July 2023, the SEC filed a lawsuit against DEBT Box, alleging the company ran a $49m fraud. According to the agency, DEBT Box sold “node licenses” promising profits from mining various cryptocurrencies, but that these tokens were never actually mined, casting doubt on the entire scheme.

The DEBT Box case against the SEC concluded just last week with a major blow to the regulatory body. The judge not only threw out the case, but also fined the SEC over $1.8m for its unethical tactics. This penalty stemmed from the court’s discovery that the SEC misled the judge to gain an unfair advantage.

Going forward, the SEC will handle Utah enforcement matters from its Denver office instead of Salt Lake City. This isn’t a new change, as the SEC’s examination oversight for Utah was already transferred to Denver years ago. So, businesses in Utah won’t see disruption in regulatory oversight, according to the notice.