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David Zaslowsky

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We have previously reported about how India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), had banned domestic financial institutions from providing banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges in India, and how, in a decision on March 4, 2020, the India Supreme Court struck down the RBI ban as unconstitutional. Now, the Times of India is reporting that the Indian government is weighing a proposal to impose an 18% goods and services tax on Bitcoin transactions. …

On December 29, 2020, New York State’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) granted a charter under New York Banking Law to GMO-Z.com Trust Company Inc., to operate as a limited liability trust company. With DFS approval, GMO is authorized to issue, administer, and redeem Japanese Yen and U.S. Dollar-pegged stablecoins in New York. The Japanese Yen stablecoin will be the first of its kind available to the public. New York, a leading global financial center, has had an interesting history with cryptocurrency. We…

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced on December 28, 2020 that it had filed an emergency action and obtained an order imposing an asset freeze and other emergency relief against Virgil Capital LLC and its affiliated companies in connection with an alleged securities fraud relating to Virgil Capital’s flagship cryptocurrency trading fund, Virgil Sigma Fund LP. The Commission’s action alleges that the fraud was directed by Virgil co-founder, 23-year-old Stefan Qin, an Australian citizen…

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission continued to the very end of 2020 to pursue companies that engaged in ICOs without proper registration. One December 23, 2020, the SEC settled charges against Texas-based blockchain startup company Tierion, Inc. for conducting an unregistered offering of securities in the form of a “token sale.” According to the SEC’s order, Tierion raised approximately $25 million through the sale of “Tierion Network Tokens” (TNT) in July of 2017. The…

ShipChain was a company engaged in developing a logistics tracking and management platform using the Ethereum blockchain technology. During the height of the ICO craze in late 2017, ShipChain raised more than $27 million in an ICO. On December 22, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ordered ShipChain to cease and desist and to pay a $2.05 million penalty. As the Order explained, ShipChain first launched its ICO in October 2017, and the ICO continued through…

There has been talk over the past month about the possibility of the Trump administration issuing certain requirements relating to crypto-wallets. Just the rumors led to pushback. On November 25, 2020, for example, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tweeted explanations of why he believed this was a bad idea and how the additional friction of such reporting requirements would kill many of the emerging use cases for crypto. He added, “Just like the U.S. benefited enormously…

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury whose mission is to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and to combat money laundering and promote national security through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence and strategic use of financial authorities. In prepared remarks to the American Bankers Association/American Bar Association Financial Crimes Enforcement Conference, Kenneth Blanco, FinCEN Director, announced a new 314(b) Fact Sheet issued on December…

On December 2, 2020, three members of the U.S. Congress issued a press release concerning the introduction of the Stablecoin Tethering and Bank Licensing Enforcement (STABLE) Act, which they touted as a consumer protection statute. The proposed legislation seeks to increase the oversight and regulation of stablecoins. The STABLE Act would: Require any prospective issuer of a stablecoin to obtain a banking charter;Require that any company offering stablecoin services must follow the appropriate banking regulations under the…

On November 19, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a no-action letter to IMVU, Inc in connection with the sale of its VCOIN token. IMVU describes itself as the world’s largest avatar-based social platform with a global network of over seven million monthly active users. These users create 3D avatars to meet new friends, interact, and play games in virtual environments online and through IMVU’s app. IMVU’s No-Action Letter Request to the SEC argued that…

A mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) is an agreement between countries for the purpose of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws. It is often used to target crimes such as money laundering and drug trafficking. On November 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that, under an MLAT request from Brazil, it had seized virtual currency worth an estimated $24 million. According to documents filed in the…