We have previously addressed the recent indictment against Nathaniel Chastain, a former executive of a major NFT marketplace, for insider trading involving NFTs. The indictment charges Chastain with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. It does not allege that the NFT is a security. It does not allege violation of the insider trading laws under securities law. Since then, as we have reported, that SEC has been investigating lack of insider trading policies for NFT/crypto exchanges.

Continue Reading NFT Insider Trading – Can There Be A Crime If It’s Not A Security?

While the crypto community is rightfully focused on the Ripple case to see how the SEC will fare in court on enforcements alleging cryptocurrency offerings are a security, a lesser-known case may provide clarity first. The SEC’s suit against LBRY is scheduled for trial in September 2022.

Continue Reading Securities and Exchange Commission V. LBRY; Is Your Crypto Project Illegal?

A recent class-action lawsuit alleges that the “Uniswap Protocol” exchange is one of the largest crypto-asset exchanges in the world, which permits the  unlawful promotion, offer, and sale of crypto tokens as unregistered securities. According to the complaint, Uniswap has no barriers to entry for users looking to trade or swap crypto tokens on the exchange.  It requires no verification of an individual’s identity and conducts no “know-your-customer” (KYC) process, leading to rampant fraud. The complaint further alleges that Uniswap has enriched itself and the other defendants (including its VC backers) by collecting fees for issuers on every transaction executed on the exchange that is not disclosed in a transparent manner, in violation of securities laws. Other allegations are that Uniswap offered and sold unregistered securities throughout the United States on its exchange without registering as a national securities exchange or as a broker-dealer and without there being any registration statements in effect for the tokens it was selling, all in violation of applicable law.
Continue Reading Uniswap and VC Backers Sued For Selling Unregistered Securities

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has announced its examination priorities for the fiscal year 2022. Among them is crypto-assets. Specifically, the SEC is targeting robo-advisers, fractionalization, and other crypto-custody arrangement practices.
Continue Reading SEC Announces 2022 Examination Priorities, Includes Crypto-Assets

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued proposed amendments to the Securities Exchange Act [1] (the “Exchange Act”) that would significantly broaden the definition of “exchange” for purposes of regulation under the Exchange Act (“Proposed Rule”).[2] Designed to address a “regulatory gap,”[3] the Proposed Rule would cover “platforms for all kinds of asset classes that bring together buyers and sellers.”[4]  Under the Proposed Rule, communication protocol systems—trading systems that offer the use of non-firm trading interest and provide protocols to bring together buyers and sellers of securities—would have to register with the SEC as an exchange unless otherwise exempt.[5]  As we previously reported, this amendment, if passed, likely would have a significant impact on the decentralized finance (“defi”) industry.
Continue Reading SEC Proposed Amendments Could Significantly Impact DeFi Companies

For some time now we have cautioned companies to seek legal advice for certain business models relating to NFTs. According to a recent report, the SEC is now targeting certain NFT uses. According to the report, the SEC is probing whether NFTs are being utilized to raise money like traditional securities. The SEC has reportedly sent subpoenas related to the investigation and is particularly interested in information about fractional NFTs. Fractionalization allows multiple people to hold (and trade) a share of an asset. Each share is represented by an NFT that represents a fraction of the ownership of or revenue rights associated with the asset. In some cases, this may meet the Howey test, which is one of the primary tests the SEC uses to assess whether a digital asset is a security.
Continue Reading SEC Targets NFTs

The use of digital securities or security tokens has coincided with the explosion of crypto-currencies and efforts to establish Internet-traded coins or tokens with utility as a form of currency. Lost amidst the enthusiasm over the revolutionary implications of crypto-currencies is the simple fact that security tokens which use block-chain technology and smart contracts have significant advantages over traditional platforms for issuing, holding and trading securities.
Continue Reading Security Tokens — A Superior Platform for Securities Holding and Trading

Smart contracts, also referred to as chaincode in the Hyperledger world, are one of the most powerful aspects of blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). This “self-executing” code can receive various inputs and, based on “if-then” logic encoded therein, can take various actions and update the ledger state.

Based on recent actions by U.S. regulators, smart contract developers need to be aware of potential liabilities that they may face (beyond the usual issues with software development).
Continue Reading Smart Contract Developers – Beware and Lawyer Up!

In a flurry of activity and confluence of developments, the SEC, FINRA and a Brooklyn federal judge have commenced actions and made rulings that continue to define the regulatory framework and obligations surrounding the sale and trading of digital securities, whether they are labeled as cryptocurrencies or tokens.
Continue Reading Recent Development in Regulatory Enforcement of Digital Securities