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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State and Federal Regulators Coordinate Efforts to Combat Crypto Fraud

This past week was a busy one for state securities regulators, the CFTC and the SEC as they continue their focus on rooting out fraud from the digital currency space and crypto- and blockchain-based ventures.  Noteworthy developments included (1) the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announcing a “cryptosweep” –…

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New York Department Of Financial Services Issues Crypto Guidance; Outlines Enhanced Reporting Requirements

On February 7, 2018, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NY DFS) issued guidance to all virtual currency businesses that maintain a “BitLicense” or that are chartered as a limited purpose trust company under New York Banking Law (collectively, VC Entities), including those that maintain a money transmitter…

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SEC Exams To Focus On ICOs And Cryptocurrency

On February 7, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2018 Examination Priorities.  In what comes as no surprise, the exam priorities include initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency, stating the following: “The cryptocurrency and ICO markets have grown rapidly and present a number of…

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SEC and CFTC Enforcement Directors Issue Joint Statement Regarding Virtual Currency Enforcement Actions

On January 19, 2018, SEC Co-Enforcement Directors Stephanie Avakian and Steven Peikin and CFTC Enforcement Director James McDonald issued the following joint statement regarding virtual currency enforcement actions: “When market participants engage in fraud under the guise of offering digital instruments – whether characterized as virtual currencies, coins, tokens, or…

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FINRA Targets ICOs and Digital Currencies in Annual Broker Exam Priorities Letter

On January 8, 2018, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) released its 2018 Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter (Exam Priorities Letter) for its broker-dealer members.  In the Exam Priorities Letter, FINRA addresses initial coin offerings (ICOs) and digital currencies, stating the following: “FINRA will closely monitor developments in this…

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New Year Brings Flurry of Regulatory Statements and Warnings Directed at Cryptocurrencies and ICOs

On the same day that a meteorological blizzard slammed the Eastern Seaboard, U.S. financial regulators unleashed their own flurry of statements and warnings surrounding initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.  Bundle up, because if the first week of the year is a prelude of things to come, then 2018 is…

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SEC Alerts On Initial Coin Offerings Are The Two Most Popular For 2017 (3 Of The Top 10 Overall)

The SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy recently issued a bulletin listing its 10 most popular Investor Alerts and Bulletins for 2017.  Numbers 1 (Initial Coin Offerings) and 2 (Public Companies Making ICO-related Claims) specifically related to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and number 9 (Celebrity Endorsements) arguably was also…

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The Future of Bitcoin is Here (Literally): Crypto Derivatives Have Gone Mainstream!

Major derivatives market operators CBOE Holdings and CME Group have jumped into the digital currency fray within the last two weeks by launching cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts (1).  The exchanges recently cleared de facto regulatory hurdles when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced the completion of the exchanges’ “self-certification”…

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SEC Issues Warning Regarding Celebrity-Promoted Coin Offerings and Moves Swiftly Against Unregistered ICOs

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued two warnings about investments sold on the basis of celebrity endorsements, including one relating to initial coin offerings (ICOs), and followed up with enforcement actions against unregistered ICOs. Investors can be misled by biased promotions. Receipt of cash or other consideration in…

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