The SEC Releases New “Framework” to Analyze Digital Assets under Securities Laws

On April 3, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) released the “Framework for ‘Investment Contract’ Analysis of Digital Assets” (the “Framework”). The Framework—published by the SEC’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (“FinHub”) —is the most comprehensive guidance the SEC has provided to date with respect to a…

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SEC Settles With Gladius Networks for Unregistered ICO; Declines to Issue Monetary Fine Due to Self-Reporting

On February 20, 2019, the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an Order Instituting Cease-And-Desist Proceedings Pursuant To Section 8a Of The Securities Act Of 1933, Making Findings, And Imposing A Cease-And-Desist Order (“Order”) [1] against Gladius Network LLC (“Gladius”) for an initial coin offering…

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Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down Due To What it Deems A “Serious Negative Impact” of U.S. Securities Regulations

Basis, one of the most well-funded crypto-startups, had plans to create an algorithmic central bank that aimed to create a price-stable cryptocurrency within a decentralized monetary system. In its April 2018 fundraising efforts, Basis had secured $133 million in funding from large institutional investors.  However, citing regulatory constraints, Basis announced…

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SEC Reaches First Settlement in connection with an Unregistered Crypto Exchange

On November 8, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it settled charges against Zachary Coburn, the founder of blockchain token trading platform EtherDelta, over operating an unregistered securities exchange1. The SEC’s cease-and-desist order to Coburn describes EtherDelta’s website as a user-friendly interface resembling online securities trading…

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SEC Director Clears Path for Secondary Sales of Security Tokens as Non-Securities, Declares Bitcoin and Ether Non-Securities

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally provided some good news, and guidance, regarding permissible token sales. On June 14, 2018, William Hinman, Director of the SEC Division of Corporation Finance, speaking at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit: Crypto, shared remarks that filled in some gaps surrounding the security…

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U.S. v. Zaslavskiy: DOJ and SEC Coordination in Enforcing the Securities Laws over Token Sales

In the fall of 2017, the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) each filed actions against Maksim Zaslavskiy for securities fraud in connection with two token offerings, through which he promised token purchasers profits from his companies’ investments in real estate and diamonds. …

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ICOs in 2018: Increased Regulatory Scrutiny, and Alternatives to Traditional "Utility" Token ICOs

As originally published by Brave New Coin, January 19, 2018. As we transition from 2017 into 2018, there has been an increase in SEC and state regulator activity in the area of Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), as the agencies seek to determine (i) whether certain ICOs constitute a sale of unregistered securities;…

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BitConnect and the Advent of State Securities Enforcement Over ICOs

In the wake of the SEC’s clarifying guidance in Munchee[1] regarding the application of the federal securities laws to initial coin offerings (“ICOs”), there has been increased activity among both federal and state regulators as they seek to deter what they deem to be sales of unregistered securities in the…

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ICO Participant Liability - Could you be Liable for Assisting in the Sale of Unregistered Securities?

As published in Bloomberg BNA’s Securities Regulation & Law Report, December 18, 2017 An initial coin offering (“ICO”) does not happen on its own. Rather, there are companies and individuals that assist in successful token sales. These can include ICO consultants, marketing firms, board members, partners at private equity and…

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SEC Issues Cease and Desist Order and Further Guidance on ICOs

On December 11, 2017, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a cease-and-desist order to Munchee Inc. (Munchee), a company that was in the process of a $15 million initial coin offering (ICO), for selling unlicensed securities. The SEC found that the ICO targeted investors, with the expectation of…

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