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Securities

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Since the ICO boom in 2017, governments around the world began settling on different approaches to regulating the crypto industry. Many legislatures and regulators proactively drafted new laws, regulations, guidance and frameworks for the crypto industry. Others used investigatory authorities and enforcement actions to regulate the industry. We expect that governments around the world will remain active for the foreseeable future as cryptoassets become more mainstream. Baker McKenzie’s new guide, Crypto around the World, presents…

On February 17, 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against Coinseed, a company that purported to offer a mobile investment application that enabled users to invest in digital assets, and its co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Delgerdalai Davaasambuu, in connection with Coinseed’s offer and sale of digital asset securities. According to the SEC’s complaint, from at least December 2017 to May 2018, Coinseed and Davaasambuu sold digital asset securities called “CSD tokens”…

On April 30, 2020, the court in Takata v. Riot Blockchain, Inc., et al., No. 18-02293 (D. N.J.), dismissed a securities class action against Riot Blockchain and certain investors. Riot Blockchain, previously known as Bioptix, transitioned its business in 2017 into building and operating blockchain technologies. The Complaint alleged that the investor defendants, acting as a group, amassed a controlling interest in the company. Plaintiff claimed that the investors engaged in manipulative trading to artificially…

On February 19, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it had settled charges against blockchain technology startup Enigma MPC for conducting an unregistered offering of securities in the form of an initial coin offering (ICO). Enigma, based in San Francisco and Israel, has agreed to return funds to harmed investors and to other relief. According to the SEC’s order, Enigma raised approximately $45 million from sales of its digital assets (called ENG…

On January 8, 2020, the SEC announced that it had charged Donald G. Blakstad and two entities he controlled with engaging in the fraudulent offer and sale of over $3.5 million of securities. The SEC’s complaint alleges that, between July 2015 and May 2019, Blakstad induced investors to purchase the securities of companies he controlled, including both Energy Sources International Corporation and Xact Holdings Corporation, by making materially false and misleading statements and omissions about…

We have previously reported on the SEC’s case against Longfin Corp and its founding CEO and controlling shareholder, Venkata Meenavalli.  The SEC’s complaint alleged that Longfin and Meenavalli obtained qualification for a Regulation A+ offering by falsely representing in public filings that the company was managed and operated in the U.S.  According to the complaint, Longfin and Meenavalli then distributed over 400,000 Longfin shares to Meenavalli’s affiliates, and misrepresented the offering to Nasdaq in order to meet…

A group of investors in Ripple’s cryptocurrency XRP filed an amended complaint exploiting recent guidance published by the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The SEC’s “Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ Analysis of Digital Assets” provides guidance for evaluating whether a particular cryptocurrency has the characteristics of an “investment contract” and therefore subject to registration under federal securities laws.  The SEC’s “Framework” identifies each of the…

Crypto exchange startup INX Limited filed a preliminary prospectus outlining its plans to raise between $5 million and $129.5 million in an initial public offering (IPO), making it one of few cryptocurrency companies to seek a U.S. listing for its tokens through registration of a public offering.  INX filed a prospectus with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in August in anticipation of an offering of approximately 130 million INX security tokens. Leveraging guidance…

Cryptoassets continue to be a hot topic for financial services regulators. On 19 October 2018, it was the turn of the Securities and Markets Stakeholders Group (“SMSG“), which represents various stakeholders’ interests to the European Securities Markets Authority (“ESMA“). The SMSG published a report setting out its advice to ESMA on how to contain the risks of cryptoassets and ICOs.

On Tuesday, September 11, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) took its first disciplinary action against an industry professional, charging a broker, Timothy Tilton Ayre, with securities fraud and the unlawful distribution of an unregistered cryptocurrency security, HempCoin. FINRA’s complaint alleges that Ayre attempted to lure public investment in his public company, Rocky Mountain Ayre, Inc., by issuing and selling HempCoin.  Ayre made a host of fraudulent statements about his company’s business and finances, as…