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David Zaslowsky

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On May 28, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against blockchain services company BitClave PTE Ltd. for conducting an unregistered initial coin offering of digital asset securities. In June 2017, BitClave began marketing the development of a platform called the BitClave Active Search Ecosystem (“BASE”). BitClave advertised that on BASE, once developed, customers would receive a digital asset the company created, CAT, in exchange for viewing and interacting with targeted ads. Around…

On May 22, 2020, the World Economic Forum’s Global Blockchain Council released the Presidio Principles. The WEF makes clear that the principles are intended to serve as a steering document for the community; they are not legally binding and are intended to be aspirational. The document calls on “all actors, including developers, governments, executives, international organisations, corporate boards, and others, to uphold these tenets as they build blockchain applications – and to self-direct their ecosystems…

We previously reported here and here about the case the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought against Telegraph. In March, Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York granted the SEC’s preliminary injunction request preventing the distribution to purchasers of $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency called “Grams,” which were going to be allotted upon the launch of Telegram’s TON blockchain. Judge Castel then denied Telegram’s request that the injunction be limited so as not…

On May 7, 2020, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission brought suit in federal court in Florida against Daniel Fingerhut of Miami, Florida, and three companies that he worked with, Digital Platinum, Inc. (DPI), a Florida corporation, Digital Platinum, Ltd. (DPL), an Israeli company, and Huf Mediya Ltd. (Huf) a Bulgarian company, as well as the control persons of all three entities, Tal Valariola and Itay Barak. According to the Complaint, beginning in at least October 2013 and continuing through August 2018,…

On April 24, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought suit in federal district court in California, charging Dropil, Inc. and its three founders, Jeremy McAlpine, Zachary Matar, and Patrick O’Hara, with defrauding investors in a fraudulent and unregistered initial coin offering (ICO) that raised more than $1.8 million from about 2500 investors. As the SEC announced, according to the complaint, from at least January to March 2018, Dropil sold DROP tokens, claiming that…

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced on April 20 that it had issued an Order of Designation to Bitnomial Exchange, LLC located in Chicago, Ill., granting it status as a designated contract market (DCM). As a result, Bitnomial joins a small number of other companies able to offer Bitcoin futures and option contracts. According to Bitnomial’s press release, “The approval allows Bitnomial to tackle a confluence of generational shifts in financial markets: First, a…

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a complaint, on April 16, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, charging defendants Alan Friedland of Florida and his Florida-based companies, Fintech Investment Group, Inc. (Fintech) and Compcoin LLC, with fraudulently soliciting more than $1.6 million from their customers in connection with a leveraged or margined off-exchange foreign currency (forex) scheme. According to the complaint, starting in at least 2016 and proceeding through 2018, Friedland and his companies fraudulently…

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges on April 2, 2020 against Texas resident and former pastor Larry Donnell Leonard, II, his wife Shuwana Leonard, and two related entities for defrauding hundreds of retail investors. The SEC’s complaint alleges that the Leonards and two companies they control, Teshuater, LLC and Teshua Business Group, LLC, targeted investors in the African-American community with three separate fraudulent offerings, raising nearly $500,000 from over 500 investors across the…

In a decision dated March 24, 2020, Judge Kevin Castel of the Southern District of New York granted a preliminary injunction request by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission preventing the distribution to purchasers of $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency called “Grams.” In 2018, Telegram sold “interests in Grams” to 175 entities and high-net-worth individuals. These “Gram Purchase Agreements” entitled the initial purchasers to receive an allotment of Grams upon launch of the TON Blockchain.…

On March 20, 2020, the district court unsealed the file in a case that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought against three individuals accused of bilking investors inside and outside the U.S. The case was initially filed under seal because the Commission sought, and obtained, an asset freeze and other emergency relief to halt an ongoing securities fraud (as claimed by the Commission). The SEC’s complaint alleges that Florida residents Robert Dunlap and Nicole Bowdler…