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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Uniswap Labs Appoints Ex-Coinbase Executive as Chief Legal Officer Amid Regulatory Scrutiny

Uniswap Labs, the renowned decentralized finance platform, has announced the appointment of Katherine Minarik as its new Chief Legal Officer (CLO). Minarik, a former legal executive at Coinbase, steps into the role as Uniswap faces increased scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This change comes as former CLO Marvin Ammori transitions to a part-time role within the company.

Minarik began her new position on Monday, confirmed in a post on social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter). Her immediate challenges include navigating the complex legal landscape as Uniswap Labs contends with potential SEC enforcement actions over concerns related to the misuse of its decentralized exchange (DEX).

Minarik brings a wealth of experience from her four-year tenure at Coinbase, where she served as Vice President of Legal and Deputy General Counsel. Reflecting on her new role, she expressed her enthusiasm for the transformative potential of decentralized finance (DeFi).

“It is impossible to spend time in crypto and not be inspired by the potential of DeFi to change the world,” Minarik shared on X. “I am humbled to be taking on this new role at Uniswap Labs, continuing another part of the fight for economic inclusion and the future of finance for all of us.”

She also thanked Uniswap founder Hayden Adams and COO Catherine Lader for their trust. “I am grateful to Hayden and Catherine for entrusting me to defend and advocate for our industry, and to help build a future we cannot yet even imagine.”

Minarik succeeds Marvin Ammori, who will transition to a part-time role focused on global public policy for DeFi starting in November. Ammori’s shift comes at a critical time as Uniswap Labs braces for heightened regulatory challenges.

Regulatory Challenges

One of Minarik’s immediate tasks will be addressing the ongoing scrutiny from the SEC. The agency has been investigating Uniswap Labs since 2021, examining whether the operations of its decentralized exchange and its native token, UNI, violate securities laws.

In April, the SEC issued a Wells Notice to Uniswap Labs, indicating a potential enforcement action. The notice accused Uniswap Labs of operating an unregistered securities exchange, among other regulatory concerns. A Wells Notice is a formal indication that the regulator has considered enforcement action following an investigation, giving the company a chance to respond before any legal proceedings are initiated.

Uniswap Labs has contested the SEC’s allegations, arguing that its DEX and UNI token do not qualify as securities and are therefore not subject to the same regulatory requirements. The company maintains that the SEC’s claims misinterpret the nature and function of the platform’s use of commodities.

As the new CLO, Minarik will be at the forefront of Uniswap Labs’ legal defense, working to navigate these regulatory challenges and advocate for the legitimacy and innovation of decentralized finance.

This strategic leadership change underscores Uniswap Labs’ commitment to robust legal and regulatory compliance as it continues to pioneer in the DeFi space.

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