SEC Sues Company For Unregistered Offerings Of NFTs
On September 13, 2023, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought a settled enforcement action against Stoner Cats 2 LLC for raising approximately $8 million through an unregistered offering of Non-Fungible Tokens (“NFTs”) that the SEC alleged were securities. This action is another example of the SEC alleging that crypto assets were securities based on the specific manner in which they were offered.
New York District Court Decides Significant Cryptocurrency Case, Holding That Whether Cryptocurrency Is A Security Turns On When And How It Was Sold
On July 13, 2023, Judge Analisa Torres of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a decision on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment in SEC v. Ripple Labs, Inc., No. 1:20-cv-10832-AT-SN, holding that Ripple Labs, Inc. (the “Company”) unlawfully sold unregistered securities in violation of the Securities Act of 1933 (the “Securities Act”) by selling its cryptocurrency token, XRP, to certain institutional buyers, while at the same time holding XRP was not a security within the meaning of the Securities Act when sold on digital asset exchanges, given the different circumstances and expectations of buyers in those transactions. The Court also held that the Company’s distributions of XRP to employees and third parties for the development of its project did not constitute sales of unregistered securities. This is a pivotal decision for the cryptocurrency market and is a significant win for cryptocurrency exchanges in particular.
CFTC Charges Digital Asset Exchange And Its Founder With Violating The Commodity Exchange Act And Commission Regulations
On March 27, 2023, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) filed a civil enforcement action against three entities that operate a digital asset exchange (the “Company”) and its Founder and Chief Executive Officer (collectively “Defendants”) for willful violation of the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) and CFTC regulations. Further, the CFTC charged the Company’s Former Chief Compliance Officer with aiding and abetting these violations. See Complaint, Commodity Futures Trading Comm’n v. Zhao, et al., Civil Action No. 1:23-cv-01887 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 27, 2023).
New York Fines Crypto Trading Platform $30M In First-Ever DFS Crypto Settlement
On August 2, 2022, New York State’s Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) announced that Robinhood Crypto, LLC (“RHC”), a trading platform that allows customers to transact in cryptocurrencies, had agreed to pay a $30 million fine to resolve allegations of “significant” lapses in its compliance with New York State anti-money laundering and cybersecurity regulations. In addition to the fine, the settlement will also require RHC to hire an independent consultant to evaluate the company’s remediation efforts and compliance with DFS regulations. RHC did not admit to the allegations contained in the Consent Order.
OCC Issues Consent Order Against A Digital Bank
On April 21, 2022, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a consent order against Anchorage Digital Bank, a digital asset bank based in South Dakota. Notably, Anchorage had previously become the first digital asset bank to be regulated by the OCC in January 2021. In its consent order, the OCC determined that Anchorage had failed to adopt an effective compliance system as required by the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering (“AML”) laws, specifically highlighting failures related to “internal controls for customer due diligence and procedures for monitoring suspicious activity, BSA officer and staff, and training.”
New York AG Demands Crypto Platforms Cease Operations
On October 18, 2021, New York’s Attorney General (NYAG) issued cease-and-desist letters to two cryptocurrency platforms, demanding that they discontinue all operations in New York within ten days for alleged violations of the Martin Act. The NYAG’s office also sent requests for information to three other cryptocurrency firms focused on “tethers,” a type of “stablecoin” cryptocurrency that is tied to the US dollar.