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SEC

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On July 13, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged California-based Abra (a crypto investment app maker) and a related firm in the Philippines for offering and selling security-based swaps to retail investors without registration and for failing to transact those swaps on a registered national exchange. In a parallel action, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission issued an order filing and settling charges against both companies for entering into illegal off-exchange swaps in…

On June 25, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged NAC Foundation, its Chief Executive Officer Marcus Andrade, and political lobbyist Jack Abramoff with conducting a fraudulent, unregistered offering of AML BitCoin, a digital asset security the defendants claimed was a new and improved version of bitcoin. The SEC alleges that Nevada-based NAC Foundation raised at least $5.6 million from more than 2,400 investors by selling tokens that could later be converted to AML…

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…

On June 5, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission unsealed a complaint it had filed on May 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah against Daniel F. Putnam, Jean Paul Ramirez Rico and Angel A. Rodriguez, as well as their company, MMT Distribution. The SEC also announced that it obtained an asset freeze and other emergency relief against the Defendants. The SEC’s complaint, alleges that, beginning in at least July 2017, Putnam operated a multilevel…

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…

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 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. 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…