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David Zaslowsky

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In 2018, the Marshall Islands passed a Sovereign Currency Act, declaring its intention to release a new, national digital currency.  In an essay published by Coindesk on September 4, The Honorable David Paul, Minister In-Assistance to the President and Environment of the Marshall Islands, stated that the official launch of the cryptocurrency – to be known as the sovereign (SOV) coin — will be announce at Invest:Asia 2019, upcoming in Singapore on September 12.  Currently,…

In July, the IRS announced that it had begun sending letters to taxpayers who may have failed to properly report income and pay any tax associated with cryptocurrency transactions or who did not properly report such transactions. The IRS expects to send more than 10,000 letters before the end of August. Taxpayers who have not properly reported their cryptocurrency transactions are, where appropriate, liable for tax, penalties, and interest, and in certain cases, may be…

On August 12, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced settled charges against a New England-based blockchain company for offering and selling approximately $6.3 million of securities to the public in unregistered transactions. According to the SEC’s order, in late 2017, SimplyVital Health, Inc. publicly announced its plan to conduct an ICO to raise money to further its development of Health Nexus, a “healthcare-related blockchain ecosystem.” SimplyVital offered a new token called Health Cash,…

On August 13, 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced on fraud charges against a Brooklyn individual and two entities under his control who allegedly engaged in a fraudulent scheme to sell digital securities to investors and to manipulate the market for those securities. The SEC filed charges against Reginald “Reggie” Middleton, a self-described “financial guru,” and two entities he controls, Veritaseum, Inc. and Veritaseum, LLC (collectively, Veritaseum).  The complaint, alleges that the Defendants…

Texas has been one of the more active states in the United States when it comes to cryptocurrency enforcement.  The Texas State Securities Board was the first state securities regulator to enter an enforcement order against a cryptocurrency firm and, to date, the Securities Commissioner has entered 24 administrative orders involving 62 individuals and entities. In June, the State Securities Board started an investigative sweep of suspect cryptocurrency offerings after the price of bitcoin nearly tripled over a period of…

On July 8, 2019, the staffs of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Trading and Markets and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)  issued a joint statement articulating various considerations relevant to questions they had received concerning the application of the federal securities laws and the rules of FINRA to the potential intermediation—including custody—of digital asset securities and transactions. At the outset, the Statement made clear that novel issues have been raised.  It…

We previously reported that, in November 2018, in a first of its kind case, the SEC charged  celebrities DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather with touting violations involving ICOs. Without admitting or denying the findings, Mayweather and Khaled agreed to pay disgorgement, penalties and interest.  One of the ICOs that they touted was Centra Tech.  They were also sued for securities law violations in a civil case brought by Centra Tech investors. The case was based on…

On April 18, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury assessed a civil money penalty against Eric Powers for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act’s (BSA) registration, program, and reporting requirements. This was FinCEN’s first enforcement action against a peer-to-peer virtual currency exchanger and the first instance in which it has penalized an exchanger of virtual currency for failure to file Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs). Powers advertised his…

On April 8, 2019, Jacob Burrell Campos of Rosarito, Mexico, was sentenced to two years in prison and to forfeit USD 823,357 in illicit profits for operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in connection with his sale of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin to over 1,000 customers throughout the United States.  Burrell, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty, admitting that he operated a Bitcoin exchange without registering with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)…

We have previously written about New York’s BitLicense regulations, which prohibit companies from engaging in “virtual currency business activity” in New York, or with New York residents, without a license.  Bittrex, based in the State of Washington, is one of the more established cryptocurrency exchanges.  On April 10, 2019, the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) published a letter denying Bittrex’s BitLicense application. According to the DFS press release, the application was denied primarily…