Jonathan A. Forman

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SEC Chair Stands Firm: ‘Vast Majority’ of Cryptocurrency Tokens Are Securities

In prepared remarks delivered at the Practising Law Institute’s “SEC Speaks” program on Sept. 8, Chair Gensler emphasized and reiterated his long-standing position that the vast majority of cryptocurrency tokens are securities, and he noted that “only a small number of tokens, even though they may represent a significant portion of the crypto market’s aggregate … Continue Reading

Applying the Bank Secrecy Act, FinCEN Regulations, and Sanctions to the Nascent NFT Market

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) often involve two areas with known money laundering and terrorist financing risks: cryptocurrencies and high-value assets, like art. As detailed below, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has provided guidance on the applicability of statutes related to anti-money laundering and terrorist financing (AML) to cryptocurrencies. Recent actions and statements … Continue Reading

SEC and DOJ Bring Parallel Crypto Insider Trading Cases; SEC Alleges Nine Tokens Are Securities

Significant parallel actions commenced this week by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) bring crypto fraud enforcement into the spotlight, with the SEC alleging that multiple tokens listed on Coinbase are securities. In its first insider trading case of “crypto asset securities,” the SEC charged a former Coinbase product manager, his … Continue Reading

SEC Signals Ramp-Up in Crypto Enforcement by Nearly Doubling Its Crypto Assets Cyber Unit Staff

On May 3, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced the expansion of its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit (the Unit f/k/a the Cyber Unit) to 50 staff members, nearly double the Unit’s former size, including supervisors, investigative staff attorneys, trial counsel and fraud analysts. The Unit is a group within the Division of … Continue Reading

Executive Order Launches Comprehensive US Policy and Action Plan for Digital Assets

On March 9, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets (EO) and the White House released a corresponding fact sheet summarizing related key policy objectives. As discussed in more detail here, this is a landmark moment for the U.S. cryptocurrency market. … Continue Reading

SEC Scrutinizes Use of Fintech by Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers

The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently issued a request for information and public comment on the use of new and emerging technologies by investment advisers and broker-dealers that suggests potential regulatory action to come.[1] According to its release, the SEC is seeking to understand how registrants — whether online brokerages, robo-advisers, internet investment advisers, … Continue Reading

SEC Doubles Down on Crypto Enforcement

In a speech before the Aspen Security Forum on August 3, 2021, Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) Chair Gary Gensler urged lawmakers to provide him with the power to police cryptocurrency trading, referring to it as the “Wild West.”[1] While he noted that the views he was sharing were his own and not … Continue Reading

SEC Charges Ripple and Two Executives, Alleging XRP Is a Security

On Dec. 22, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or the Commission) filed an action against Ripple Labs Inc. (Ripple or the Company) and two of its executives, alleging that they violated Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (Securities Act) by raising over $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing securities … Continue Reading

Telegram: Deconstructing One of the Biggest Blockchain Cases of 2020

The Telegram case is arguably the most important case of 2020 involving the legal classification of blockchain-based digital assets. Because it is often cost-prohibitive for companies to challenge the government in court, the Telegram litigation offered a unique opportunity for the parties to present arguments on several complex legal issues. Given the lack of judicial … Continue Reading

SEC Wins Case Against Kik and Adds Precedent for Digital Assets

On Sept. 30, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) motion for sum mary judgment against Kik Interactive Inc. (Kik) and denied Kik’s cross-motion for summary judgment. As we previously reported, the SEC challenged Kik’s compliance with the federal securities laws in … Continue Reading

New York Appellate Court Confirms Attorney General’s Broad Investigative Powers into the Cryptocurrency Industry

On July 9, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department (First Department) issued a significant decision in James v. iFinex that confirmed the broad authority of the New York State Attorney General (NYAG) to investigate potential fraud. The decision is significant because it is the first appellate decision to apply … Continue Reading

SEC and Kik Present Competing Arguments on Application of Securities Laws to Blockchain Tokens

On May 8, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Kik Interactive Inc. (Kik) finished briefing their cross motions for summary judgment, which were previously filed on March 20, with opposition briefs filed on April 24. The briefing totals more than 400 pages of arguments by the parties in the SEC’s court challenge … Continue Reading

Court Applies Single Scheme Theory To Grant the SEC’s Preliminary Injunction in Telegram Cryptocurrency Case

On March 24, Judge P. Kevin Castel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) motion for a preliminary injunction in the closely followed Telegram case. The preliminary injunction continues to prevent the delivery by Telegram Group Inc. and TON Issuer (collectively, Telegram) of … Continue Reading

New FinCEN Guidance for Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Businesses

On May 9, 2019, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published FIN-2019-G001, which provides new guidance on the application of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and FinCEN regulations to money services businesses that engage in money transmission involving convertible virtual currencies. While stating that it “does not establish any new regulatory expectations or requirements,” the … Continue Reading

Hard for ICOs to Avoid US Courts: Personal Jurisdiction Found in Two Recent Securities Cases Over Foreign ICO Defendants

Over the past year, the plaintiffs’ bar and Securities and the Exchange Commission (SEC) have brought class and enforcement action proceedings, respectively, against those involved with the issuance and marketing of initial coin offerings (ICOs), including those located outside the United States. The proceedings involving foreign defendants present the interesting and threshold issue in these … Continue Reading

Blockchain Developments: Food Supply Chain, Bitcoin ETPs, ICOs and Tech Adoption

In this issue: • Multiple Pilots Drive Momentum for Leveraging Blockchain in the Food Supply Chain • SEC Rejects Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, Commissioner Dissents • New Reports Detail ICO Scrutiny and Seek to Provide Clarity • Blockchain Adoption Continues in Both Institutional and Startup Environments Multiple Pilots Drive Momentum for Leveraging Blockchain in the Food … Continue Reading

ICOs Avoiding US Citizens Not Immune To Lawsuits In US

Last summer, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its 21(a) report concluding that, according to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in SEC v. W.J. Howey Co., the DAO token qualified as a “security” under the federal securities laws and thus, its offering had to either be registered with the SEC or subject to a … Continue Reading
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