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SEC

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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…

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…

In a first, on April 3, 2019, the US Securities and Exchange Commission issued its first cryptocurrency No-Action Letter.  The Letter was issued to TurnKey Jet Inc. (“TKJ”), a jet-leasing business. The company will issue the TKJ digital tokens to people who sign up for its membership program and the members can then use the tokens to charter a private jet.  Based on the Letter, TKJ may offer and sell its tokens without registration under…

On March 11, 2019, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it had entered into a Consent Order resolving a CFTC action against 1pool Ltd., located in the Marshall Islands, and its chief executive officer and owner, Patrick Brunner, for illegally offering retail commodity transactions that were margined in bitcoin, failing to register as a futures commission merchant (FCM), and failing to meet its supervisory duties by not having the required anti-money laundering…

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…

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…

The U.S. SEC has shown it seriousness in cracking down on noncompliant ICOs by pursuing enforcement in a number of different ways.  We have reported on the SEC’s recent first-time enforcement action against an entity for operating as an unregulated national securities exchange and its recent first cases imposing civil penalties solely for ICO securities offering registration violations.  Yesterday marked another new first.  The cases brought against celebrities  DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather were the first…

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued a decision that is already being reported as one holding that a token is not a “security.”  That is incorrect.  The court left for another day the issue of whether the token in question meets the securities law definition of a “security.”  It merely held that, for purposes of the request for a preliminary injunction, the court could not conclude that…