Tag Archives: SEC

SEC Obtains TRO against Telegram Group Inc.

On October 11, 2019 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed an emergency action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and obtained a temporary restraining order against Telegram Group Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, TON Issuer Inc. According to the SEC’s complaint,[1] the two offshore entities were … Continue Reading

SEC Files ICO-Related Enforcement Action Against ICOBox

In Securities and Exchange Commission v. ICOBox et al,[1] the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) alleges that defendant ICOBox and its founder, Nikolay Evdokimov violated Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act by selling $14.6 million in unregistered securities within and outside the United States.  ICOBox bills itself as an ICO[2] incubator that provides … Continue Reading

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Publishes Joint Statement on Broker-Dealer Custody of Digital Asset Securities

On July 8, 2019 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) (both, the “Regulators”) published a Public Statement titled, “Joint Staff Statement on Broker-Dealer Custody of Digital Asset Securities” (the “Joint Statement”).  The Joint Statement follows many months of discussions with certain digital asset securities industry participants … Continue Reading

FINRA Issues First Litigated Enforcement Action Against Crowdfunding Portal

 On June 5, 2019, a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) panel handed down its first enforcement action against a funding portal. DreamFunded, a crowdfunding platform, was banned from FINRA membership, and Manny Fernandez, DreamFunded’s CEO, was barred from association with any FINRA funding portal member. DreamFunded and Fernandez were further ordered to cover $15,900 in … Continue Reading

SEC Releases Commentary Applying Howey Test to Digital Assets

On April 3, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took a first step toward providing greater clarity on the key question of how to evaluate whether transactions involving issuance or sales of digital tokens are sales of securities subject to U.S. securities laws and regulations. To read the full client alert, please visit … Continue Reading

Ringgold II: Court Reverses Course on Preliminary Injunction of Digital Token

As detailed in a prior post on this blog, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California previously denied the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) request for a preliminary injunction against Blockvest, LLC and its founder and chairman Reginald Buddy Ringgold, III (Ringgold).  Recently, upon reconsideration, the court changed course, finding … Continue Reading

Federal Court denies SEC Injunction in Blockvest ICO

On November 28, 2018, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California denied the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) request for a preliminary injunction against Defendants Blockvest, LLC (Blockvest) and Blockvest’s founder and chairman Reginald Buddy Ringgold, III (Ringgold). Securities and Exchange Commission v. Blockvest, LLC, et al.[1] The SEC alleged … Continue Reading

SEC settlement of two ICOs based on sales of unregistered securities: No fraud claims asserted

On Friday, November 16, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it settled two cases against digital token issuers. The settlements, one with CarrierEQ Inc. (AirFox) and the other with Paragon Coin Inc. (Paragon), are the first time that the SEC has imposed civil penalties on companies solely for offering digital tokens … Continue Reading

SEC in First Enforcement Action Against Token Exchange

On November 8, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) settled its first case against an unregistered cryptocurrency exchange.  Zachary Coburn, founder of EtherDelta, agreed to pay $313,000 in disgorgement and interest, along with a civil fine of $75,000, in order to settle SEC allegations that EtherDelta was acting as an unregistered securities … Continue Reading

Federal Regulation of Virtual Currency and Digital Tokens: Preemption, Jurisdiction, and Clarity. But will States Push Back?

In September of this year, certain congressmen expressed their intention to preempt state regulation of virtual currency regulation.  Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) expressed a need for “partial federal preemption” of state laws and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) plans to introduce a bill that may seek federal preemption of state licensing and oversight requirements of virtual … Continue Reading

Regulation A+: A Path to Market for Crypto Companies?

Most companies considering an Initial Coin Offering to U.S. purchasers have resigned themselves to the fact that their proposed token or coin offering is likely to be considered an offering of securities by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and must be made in compliance with U.S. securities laws. The logical next question then becomes … Continue Reading

Berkeley to Use Blockchain for Tokenized Bonds

The City of Berkeley, California will be the first U.S. city to explore blockchain-based financing to tackle social issues such as affordable housing.  Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Councilmember Ben Bartlett are collaborating with the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab and San Francisco-based financial startup Neighborly for the Berkeley Blockchain Initiative (“BBI”) to develop a tokenized municipal … Continue Reading

Hong Kong Securities Commission Launches Inquiry Into Seven Crypto Exchanges

On February 9, 2018, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) released a statement which, among other things, informs the marketplace that the SFC sent letters to seven Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchanges warning against listing instruments that qualify as “securities” under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (“SFO”) without a required license.[1]  Additionally, the SFC … Continue Reading

Securities Class Action Lawsuits Continue to Test the “Utility” Token Sale Model

On January 30, 2018, dissatisfied crypto token purchasers filed a class action lawsuit against Paragon Coin, Inc. (“Paragon”) and founders Jessica VerSteeg and Egor Lavrov, alleging that the Paragon initial coin offering (“ICO”) violated the federal securities laws.[1]  This lawsuit follows those filed by plaintiffs against Centra, Tezos, ATBCoin, BitConnect, and Xunlei in connection with … Continue Reading

SEC Scrutinizes Pumping of Blockchain-Related Securities

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) is continuing to increase its scrutiny of companies that might be taking advantage of investor excitement for blockchain and cryptocurrency (ICO) deals to inflate their share prices and raise funds.  On January 8, 2018, the SEC suspended trading in the securities of Hong Kong-based UBI Blockchain Internet, Ltd. … Continue Reading

ICOs Must Remain Aware of Regulatory Enforcers

Digital assets, popularly referred to as “cryptocurrencies”, “coins”, and “tokens”, continue to provoke regulatory attention and create discord amongst regulators. Recent actions by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) demonstrate that activities by the issuers of tokens may draw scrutiny from either or both agencies. As … Continue Reading

Security Implications for Blockchain Technology Reviewed by SEC

On October 12, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Committee (“SEC”) held an Investor Advisory Committee (“IAC”) meeting to consider, among other things, blockchain technology and the implications for securities markets.1 The meeting covered a broad range of topics relating to blockchain and distributed ledger technology (“DLT”), including initial coin offerings (“ICO”), post-trade processing, and … Continue Reading

Regulatory Authorities Respond to Coin Offering Endorsements

Floyd Mayweather, a world famous boxing champion, recently used his Twitter and Instagram accounts to help a company raise more than $30 million in an initial coin offering (“ICO”).1 Other celebrities have similarly capitalized on their “influencer” status by promoting digital tokens to their Twitter and Instagram followers. Token issuers raised over $3 billion via … Continue Reading

CFTC and SEC Chairs Seek to Apply Existing Laws and Regulations to Digital Assets

Nine years after Satoshi Nakamoto circulated his whitepaper and introduced the world to bitcoin, regulated bitcoin derivatives are about to be introduced in the United States. CME Group recently announced that it will begin to offer bitcoin futures based on the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate later this year[1] and the Chicago Board Options Exchange … Continue Reading

SEC Files Complaint Against Trader Involving Bitcoin Conversion Scheme

On October 30, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed a complaint in federal court against a day trader for allegedly committing fraud and market manipulation during which the trader utilized a digital currency exchange in a supposed attempt to cover his tracks. The SEC claims that defendant’s associate obtained unauthorized access to … Continue Reading

SEC Creates New Units Focused On Cyber Crimes That Will Cover Crypto Tokens

September 28, 2017 Two months after its Investor Bulletin stating that U.S. securities laws may apply to digital token sales, the Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced Monday two new initiatives to address cyber-based threats and protect retail investors.  The SEC’s press release outlined the creation of the Cyber Unit (“Unit”) and the Retail Strategy Task … Continue Reading

SEC Rejects Second Bitcoin ETF Due to Lack of Regulatory Oversight

On March 28, 2017, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a second denial of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (“ETF”), following its rejection of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust earlier this month. SolidX Bitcoin Trust would hold bitcoin as its primary asset, together with smaller amounts of cash.  Theft of bitcoins would be protected against through … Continue Reading

BATS BZX Exchange’s Proposal Disapproved by the SEC

On March 10, 2017, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC“) issued an order disapproving BATS BZX Exchange’s proposal to list and trade shares of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust. The proposal, if granted, would have established a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (“ETF“) that market participants could invest in through the BATS BZX Exchange platform. The SEC order … Continue Reading

SEC Forum on FinTech Innovation Discusses Leveraging the Blockchain to Enhance Transparency, Verifiability and Governance in Corporate Processes

In a panel at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent forum on Innovation in FinTech, experts discussed blockchain’s potential role in corporate processes such as by providing an unalterable history of transactions, by tracking products and documents throughout their lifecycles, and by dividing the risks and costs of maintaining an authoritative system of record among … Continue Reading
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