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Section 12(k) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 provides that, “if in [the SEC’s] opinion the public interest and the protection of investors so require, the Commission is authorized by order to (A) summarily to suspend trading in any security (other than an exempted security) for a period not exceeding 10 business days.” In Orders date February 15, the SEC relied on this rule to suspended trading in three penny-stock companies — Cherubim Interests…

We previously reported on the Kentucky court that issued a temporary restraining order against BitConnect.  On Wednesday, that TRO was extended to February 27. Yesterday, a new lawsuit was brought against BitConnect in federal court in Florida.  The judge in this case refused to enter a TRO freezing the defendants’ assets.  Following are the material parts of the decision: Plaintiffs argue that without the TRO, Defendants may “dissipate money generated from Plaintiffs and the Class or…

The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has issued guidance reminding all virtual currency entities licensed by New York State, including those that hold a money transmitter license, that they are required to implement measures designed to effectively detect, prevent, and respond to fraud, attempted fraud, and similar wrongdoing.  In addition, DFS reminded virtual currency companies that they must be especially vigilant against efforts at market manipulation. In the guidance issued today, DFS…

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo testified today before Congress on the subject of virtual currencies.  The prepared remarks of both contained very little that they had not already said in previous public comments. (For example, Mr. Clayton repeated that the ICOS he has seen would qualify as a “security” and this need to be registered)  Each also referred to the enforcement actions that their agencies had taken (mostly over the past…

The U.S. SEC announced today that it had obtained a court order to halt and freeze the assets of what is likely one of the largest initial coin offerings ever. The complaint alleges that AriseBank used social media, a celebrity endorsement, and other wide dissemination tactics to raise what it claims to be $600 million of its $1 billion goal in just two months.  According to the SEC press release, “AriseBank and its principals sought…

We previously reported how, in the Tezos litigation, the court denied a temporary restraining order that sought to enjoin the defendants from selling, transferring, converting, or otherwise disposing of any assets collected or derived from an ICO, holding that plaintiff had failed to show that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief.  Today, in connection with the class action against BitConnect, (Paige v Bitconnect, case 3:18-cv-0058-JHM W.D. Ky 1-30-18),…

Propy, a California-based blockchain startup, announced that it is partnering with the city of South Burlington, Vermont, to use blockchain technology to record real estate conveyance documents.  The goal will be to do away with hard copy registry altogether and enhance efficiency because, under the current system, it is necessary to drive to South Bulrington to do a title search.  Of course, carried to its ultimate conclusion, if land registry records were entirely on the…

The CFTC disclosed today that, on January 16, in a case initially filed under seal, the CFTC sued and froze the assets of the creators of a supposed cryptocurrency called “My Big Coin” who allegedly took $6 million from unwitting buyers and used it to fund shopping sprees and pay off earlier investors.  My Big Coin Pay Inc. — a Nevada corporation whose product, the CFTC noted, sounded similar to Bitcoin — its founder Randall…

In a speech at the Securities Regulation Institute yesterday, U.S. SEC Chairman Clayton delivered some pretty blunt (and, according to the Commissioner, “stern”) words to lawyers and other professionals.  He said that market professionals need to act responsibly and hold themselves to a higher standard; in the realm of ICOs, he said, “they can do better.” Talking specifically about lawyers, he commented: First, and most disturbing to me, there are ICOs where the lawyers involved…

Among the many areas of law that will have to continue to evolve around cryptocurrencies is the tax law.  In the United States, as far back as 2014, the Internal Revenue Service issued Notice 2014-21 which clearly stated that virtual currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes.  That meant, among other things that: Wages paid to employees using virtual currency are taxable to the employee, must be reported by an employer on…