Author

Patrick Dennien

Browsing

On July 22, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) issued an interpretive letter confirming that national banks and savings associations may provide cryptocurrency custody and related services. National banks have long provided safekeeping and custody services for a wide variety of customer assets, including both physical objects and electronic assets, and the extension of these services to cryptocurrency is a modern form of these traditional activities. In the letter, the OCC…

On June 21, 2019 a Connecticut federal judge certified a class of alleged victims of a cryptocurrency mining Ponzi scheme.  Class certification is another step forward in providing legitimate avenues of restitution for those who have been defrauded by cryptocurrency schemes. The suit, led by Denis Marc Audet, alleges that GAW Miners LLC, ZenMiner LLC, and Stuart Fraser (who allegedly had control of the two companies) defrauded him and thousands like him in violation of…

On February 20, 2019 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) reached a settlement with Gladius Network LLC for conducting an unregistered initial coin offering (“ICO”), which the company self-reported to the SEC. In July 2017, Gladius’s founders began developing a network in which participants could rent spare bandwidth and storage space on their computers and servers to others for use in defense against certain types of cyberattacks and to enhance their content delivery speed.…

House bills with bipartisan support would direct regulators to examine new ways to oversee digital assets and protect them from manipulation, as some lawmakers strive to make financial technologies more mainstream.  One bill, the “U.S. Virtual Currency Market and Regulatory Competitiveness Act of 2019” (H.R. 923), would direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), consulting with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies, to report to committees including Senate Banking and House Financial Services…

In November 2018, a U.S. District Court declined to accept the SEC’s argument that an ICO token was a “security.”  There are those who saw this as a setback for the SEC, although, as we wrote on this blog, that was an error because the judge merely held that he needed more evidence to resolve disputed questions of fact.  In the face of a request by the SEC for reconsideration, the judge has now reversed…

On December 17 we published an article in Law360 describing the SEC’s busy November in which it secured three “firsts” in its crackdown on unlawful digital activity: (1) its first enforcement action against an entity for operating as an unregulated national securities exchange; (2) its first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations; and (3) its first cases charging touting violations involving ICOs.  By highlighting its own “firsts,” the SEC was…

LabCFTC, the FinTech engagement arm of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), this week released a primer on smart contracts that provides examples of contract logic, describes a decentralized blockchain, and details applications.  The primer also highlights potential operational and regulatory challenges and risks. The primer acknowledges that a smart contract potentially can be a binding legal contract subject to a variety of legal frameworks. Among them are the CFTC, federal and state securities, tax,…

On November 8, the SEC settled charges against Zachary Coburn, the founder of EtherDelta, a digital token trading platform.  This is the SEC’s first enforcement action against an entity for operating as an unregulated national securities exchange.  Mr. Coburn consented to the SEC’s order and agreed to pay $300,000 in disgorgement, $13,000 in prejudgment interest, and a $75,000 penalty. In its order, the SEC concluded that EtherDelta’s trading system met the definition of “exchange” under…

On October 10, CipherTrace – a developer of cryptocurrency AML, bitcoin forensics, and blockchain threat solutions – released its Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report – Q3 2018 (the “Report”).  The Report analyzed 45 million bitcoin transactions involving the top 20 global cryptocurrency exchanges to produce some sobering findings regarding the level of criminal activity at crypto exchanges and the effectiveness of AML regulation. Some key findings are summarized below. 97% of bitcoin payments made directly from…

On Tuesday, September 11, a New York Federal Judge rejected a defendant’s argument that he cannot be prosecuted because the digital coins he sold were not securities. Maksim Zaslavskiy is accused of making materially false and fraudulent representations in connection with two investment schemes and ICOs for REcoin Group Foundation, LLC (“REcoin”) and DRC World, Inc. (“Diamond”).  Zaslavskiy claimed that REcoin and Diamond did not involve securities and were therefore beyond the reach of the…