Open Session of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Hears Joint Testimony from Heads of the SEC & CFTC

On February 6, 2018, the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs conducted a hearing entitled “Virtual Currencies: The Oversight Role of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.” Hearing. The Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Jay Clayton, and the Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), J. Christopher Giancarlo, provided testimony.

The hearing comes at a time when both agencies are increasingly active in the virtual currency space. Most notably, the SEC has provided extensive guidance and taken enforcement action against certain “initial coin offerings” for violations of the U.S. securities laws. Similarly, the CFTC has taken enforcement actions against fraudulent schemes, as well as overseeing the launch of Bitcoin futures contracts. For further information on these actions, please consult virtualcurrencyreport.com. The testimony from both agencies follows on public statements by both Chairmen, including most recently a joint op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal. Continue Reading

Understanding Cryptocurrencies in Asset Management Forum held in New York, materials now available

On January 18th, Perkins Coie LLP held a forum entitled Understanding Cryptocurrencies in Asset Management in its New York office.  This forum covered how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are affecting the asset management industry with specifics on:

  • Investing in Bitcoin futures and other crypto-derivatives
  • Emerging crypto indices
  • Overview of product development including Bitcoin ETFs and cryptocurrencies as an asset class
  • The use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in processing and trading of securities and derivatives

Speakers included Andrew Cross, Partner, Perkins Coie, Todd Zerega, Partner, Perkins Coie and Dana Syracuse, Counsel, Perkins Coie.

The presentation is now available here. For further information, please contact one of the speakers.

SEC Takes Aim at Initial Coin Offerings Again

The SEC is targeting ICOs once again, but it is now adding more focus through its new Enforcement Division Cyber Unit.

  • In its enforcement settlement with Munchee, Inc., the SEC looked past the utility of a “utility token” in its “securities” analysis and instead focused on aspects such as marketing and the existence of a secondary market for the tokens.
  • SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a statement reinforcing that facts matter for each token sale, but also provided a warning that when things sound “too good to be true,” they usually are.

In this update, we detail the background behind the SEC’s Munchee Order and its new Cyber Unit, share some lessons from the order and consider the implications of these renewed efforts. Read the full article on PerkinsCoie.com

CFTC Virtual Currency Proposed Interpretation – Part 2

On December 15, 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) issued a proposed interpretation of the term “actual delivery” as used in the provision of the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”) that grants the CFTC explicit authority to oversee the marketplace for “retail commodity transactions.”  This is the second blog posting in a multi-part series (read Part 1 here) that will explore the regulation of retail commodity transactions and the CFTC’s recent proposed interpretation (the “Proposed Interpretation”), the issuance of which we believe represents a potentially significant milestone in the regulation of virtual currency transactions.  We continue our series with an examination of the Proposed Interpretation and its examples for what may constitute “actual delivery” of virtual currency.  Continue reading on the Derivatives & Repo Report.

Retail Commodity Transactions Involving Virtual Currencies: An Overview of the CFTC’s Proposed Interpretation (Part 1)

On December 15, 2017, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) issued a proposed interpretation of the term “actual delivery” as used in the provision of the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”) that grants the CFTC explicit authority to oversee the marketplace for “retail commodity transactions”. This is the first blog posting in a multi-part series that will explore the regulation of retail commodity transactions and the CFTC’s recent proposed interpretation (the “Proposed Interpretation”), the issuance of which we believe has represents a potentially significant milestone in the regulation of virtual currency transactions. We begin our series with a brief look at the history and background of the regulation of retail commodity transactions. Read the full “Retail Commodity Transactions Involving Virtual Currencies: An Overview of the CFTC’s Proposed Interpretation (Part 1)” post on our Derivatives & Repo Report.

SEC Files Emergency Action to Halt Alleged ICO Scam

On Friday, December 1, 2017, the SEC filed an emergency action in federal district court in Brooklyn alleging that Dominic Lacroix and Sabrina Paradis-Roger, both from Quebec, Canada, raised approximately $15 million in a purported fraudulent unregistered Initial Coin Offering (ICO) involving PlexCoin.  In its complaint, the SEC alleged that a recidivist Quebec securities law violator, Dominic Lacroix, and his company, PlexCorps, had raised millions from investors since August 2017 by promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month.  In addition to filing the action, the SEC sought and obtained an asset freeze. Read the SEC press release here.

This action comes on the heels of a similar type of action filed by the SEC involving ICOs purportedly backed by investments in real estate and diamonds.  In that case, the SEC alleged that Maksim Zaslavskly touted REcoin as the first ever cryptocurrency backed by real estate.  Zaslavskly allegedly told investors that he had a team of lawyers, professionals, brokers and accountants that would invest REcoin’s ICO proceeds into real estate.  In reality, according to the SEC, no such operations existed and Zaslavskly never hired or even consulted any professionals.  Similar to PlexCoin case, the SEC sought and obtained an emergency court order freezing the assets of Zaslavskly and his companies. Read the SEC press release here.

Both of these actions reflect aggressive filings by the SEC for those involved in unregistered fraudulent ICOs.  Stay tuned as the Enforcement Division may be gearing up for further action.     

CFTC Commissioner Quintenz Addresses ISDA’s Unlocking Value in Derivatives Markets Conference in London

Earlier today, CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz spoke at a conference hosted by ISDA in London. His remarks focused on the central theme of that conference – the power of technology to transform financial markets. Read the highlights from Commissioner Quintenz’s speech on our Derivatives & Repo Report.

CBOE and CME Self-Certify Bitcoin Futures, Cantor Self-Certifies Bitcoin Binary Options and NFA Issues Investor Alert

It was a busy morning at the intersection of derivatives and virtual currencies. The world of virtual currencies is about to simultaneously become a lot more institutional and a lot more retail. Read an overview of what happened and some thoughts about what it means for the world of virtual currencies on our Derivatives & Repo Report.

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