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Cryptocurrency

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On 27 July 2020, the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG), which comprises UK financial services industry trade bodies, published new sectoral guidance for cryptoasset exchange providers and custodian wallet providers regarding compliance with money laundering obligations. The Guidance provides an outline of the money laundering risks posed by cryptoassets and how cryptoasset firms can mitigate such risks. Money-Laundering Risks of Cryptoassets A 2020 study by the UK’s National Crime Agency reported that UK based…

On July 20, 2020, the UK’s HM Treasury (HMT) published a consultation paper proposing to bring the promotion of certain types of cryptoasset within the scope of the UK’s financial promotions restriction. We’ve summarised key considerations below; for further reading, our Financial Institutions Hub post takes a deeper look at the consultation. Proposed Changes The financial promotions restriction, set out in section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, provides that a person must not,…

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 30 June 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) published a research report into the market size, consumer profile and attitude towards cryptoassets. This research shows that an estimated 2.6 million UK consumers have purchased cryptoassets at some point; a 1.1 million increase over 2019’s figure. The Research Since 2018, the FCA has worked with the Bank of England and the UK Government as part of a Domestic Taskforce on Cryptoassets. In its joint…

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced on June 19, 2020 that it had filed an emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order and asset freeze against two Pennsylvania-based brothers and three entities they control to stop an offering fraud and the misappropriation of investor proceeds. According to the SEC’s complaint, from at least July 2019 through May 2020, brothers Sean Hvizdzak and Shane Hvizdzak offered securities in a private fund that purported to invest in…

France has regulated Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and intermediaries providing crypto-asset services by virtue of its PACTE law n° 2019-486 of 22 May 2019. Its aim was twofold: France wanted to attract meritorious projects to its territory while also bringing this ecosystem within the ambit of regulation. Thus, while France transposed the EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering-Directive (AML-Directive), it went a step further by imposing additional regulatory duties on intermediaries. In this respect, it has provided…

On May 13, 2020, Kenneth A. Blanco, the Director of the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) delivered a speech at the ConsenSys Blockchain Conference. As Mr. Blanco notes in his speech, FinCEN is the primary regulatory and administrator of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), which serves as the legal architecture for anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing in the U.S. FinCEN collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat domestic and…

Ukraine is actively promoting a friendly regulatory environment for blockchain/cryptocurrency projects, in both the public and private sectors. On May 18, 2020, the Ministry of Digital Transformation (MDT) launched a public consultation in relation to the draft law on the virtual assets (available here in Ukrainian). Among other things, it sets out (i) the legal status of the virtual assets; (ii) their issuance rules; (iii) the relevant regulator and scope of its powers; and (iv) the…

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…