Uniswap hires ex-Coinbase exec ahead of SEC lawsuit

Decentralized finance (DeFi) exchange Uniswap has appointed former Coinbase legal executive Katherine Minarik as its new Chief Legal Officer as the company braces for a potential legal battle with U.S. federal regulators.

Minarik, who announced her new role on X, assumed the top legal position at Uniswap. Her appointment comes two months after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicated it might pursue legal action against Uniswap Labs for allegedly violating federal securities laws.

“It is impossible to spend time in crypto and not be inspired by the potential of DeFi to change the world,” Minarik said 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.”

Minarik joins Uniswap Labs after a four-year tenure at Coinbase, where she most recently served as vice president of legal and deputy general counsel. She succeeds former CLO Marvin Ammori, who announced he would transition to a part-time role at the startup in November.

Minarik faces many challenges ahead. In April, the SEC issued a Wells Notice to Uniswap Labs, signaling it might bring an enforcement action against the company. The SEC accused Uniswap Labs’ protocol of operating as an unregistered securities exchange, among other regulatory allegations.

Uniswap stands as the leading decentralized exchange (DEX) when it comes to daily trading volumes, holding a 22.5% market share. This surge in regulatory scrutiny arrives shortly after a comparable subpoena was sent to Uniswap’s competitor, SushiSwap, indicating an ongoing trend of increased regulatory attention on decentralized trading platforms.

In their response to the Wells notice, Uniswap Labs contended that their protocol does not qualify as an exchange under current definitions and is not subject to SEC regulation. The company stated that although it created the protocol, it is now a “passive” technology used for cryptocurrency trading.