Senator Cynthia Lummis expressed disappointment with Signature Bank’s former Chairman Scott Shay and former President Eric Howell at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday. Lummis, a Wyoming Republican and crypto advocate, criticized Shay’s supposed deflection of blame for the bank’s failure and his wordiness about crypto. Signature Bank was one of three banks to fail in March, along with Silicon Valley Bank. Gregory Becker, former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, also testified at the hearing.
Shay noted the volatility of digital assets and regulators’ concerns in his prepared testimony, stating that the bank took steps to reduce its digital asset deposits. However, the bank’s depositors withdrew $16 billion in just a few hours following the announcement of a bank with strong ties to the digital asset sector going out of business. Lummis pointed out Shay’s repeated mention of digital assets in his testimony and implied that he was suggesting it as the driver of Signature Bank’s collapse.
Some crypto advocates on Twitter have blamed the government for intentionally targeting the crypto sector with bank closures, though NYDFS Superintendent Adrienne Harris pushed back on that sentiment, speaking on Signature Bank at a conference last month. “The idea that the taking possession of Signature was about crypto and this is ‘Choke Point 2.0’ is really ludicrous,” Harris was quoted as saying at the conference.