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ICO

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On October 11, 2019 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it has filed an emergency action and obtained temporary restraining order against two offshore entities conducting an alleged unregistered, ongoing digital token offering in the U.S. and overseas that has raised more than $1.7 billion of investor funds. According to the SEC’s complaint, Telegram Group Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary TON Issuer Inc. began raising capital in January 2018 to finance the companies’…

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…

Background The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has released an update to Information Sheet 225 Initial coin offerings and crypto-assets (INFO 225). These updates follow the Australian Treasury’s release of its issues paper in January this year, and a subsequent consultation period with stakeholders. Baker McKenzie was involved in the consultation process and delivered a written submission addressing token categorisation, secondary trading in the ICO market, and the current Australian regulatory framework pertaining to…

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 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.…

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…

Pursuant to the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019 (the “Prescription Order”), which came into force on 15 January 2019, digital currencies and digital tokens which are not issued or guaranteed by any government body or central bank, and fulfils other specific features, are prescribed as securities. The implications of treating digital currencies and digital tokens as securities are significant as the Malaysian Capital Markets and Services…

On the 23rd and 24th November 2018, the Blockchain Leadership Summit was held in Basel, Switzerland. The participating leaders represented states (for example, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat), blockchain businesses, the finance sector, academia as well as various industries. Manuel Meyer and Yves Mauchle of Baker McKenzie Zurich held a workshop on structuring an initial coin offering. The first topic of the workshop was the regulatory categorization of the token based on its underlying economic…

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…