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Category Archives: Legal Issues and Regulation

Coinbase Threat Shows SEC Means Business

Yahoo Finance | | Sep 5, 2021

SEC Chair Gensler - Coinbase Threat Shows SEC Means Business(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler just put the cryptocurrency industry on notice of how far the regulator will to go to tame a market he’s labeled the wild west of finance.

In threatening to sue Coinbase Global Inc. if the exchange lets customers earn interest on their digital tokens, the SEC sent a warning to other firms already offering similar products or contemplating doing so. The move is the clearest sign yet that, under Gensler, the regulator will aggressively use its powers to thwart products it’s uncomfortable with -- even before they launch.

Privately, ex-SEC officials said they were shocked by the agency’s posture, which Coinbase disclosed Tuesday in a blog post. The former officials said the SEC typically waits for firms to start selling investments before announcing possible sanctions, indicating the agency has found a forceful way to shut down cutting-edge crypto offerings it fears are putting consumers at risk. Coinbase slid 3.2% to $258.20 in New York trading on news of the SEC’s pending enforcement action.

The SEC is being aggressive for the first time in a long time

“The SEC is being aggressive for the first time in a long time,” said James Cox, a professor at Duke University School of Law. “The SEC has been putting a lot of muscle into cryptocurrency. It’s a big, fast-growing market and a fertile area for abuses.”

See:  Will Gary Gensler at SEC be Good for Crypto?

SEC officials declined to comment.

Coinbase’s tussle with the SEC became public when Paul Grewal, the company’s chief legal officer, said the SEC determined that Lend involved “a security, but wouldn’t say who or how they’d reached that conclusion.” Grewal added that the agency told Coinbase “that if we launch Lend they intend to sue,” prompting the company to shelve the product until at least October.

Coinbase Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong later tweeted that the SEC was engaging in “really sketchy behavior.”

The crypto exchange won support from at least one long-time SEC adversary: Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban. In a series of tweets, he urged Coinbase to fight back to prevent the agency from winning a legal ruling that allows it to assert more authority over tokens and DeFi. Cuban famously prevailed against the SEC in 2013 after it accused him of insider trading.

See:  Decentralized Finance—Risks, Regulation, and the Road Ahead

Mark Cuban. In a series of tweets, he urged Coinbase to fight back to prevent the agency from winning a legal ruling that allows it to assert more authority over tokens and DeFi

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Coinbase Threat Shows SEC Means Business The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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FCA Chair Charles Randall Discusses Crypto, Stablecoins and Digital Asset Regulation

Crowdfund Insider | | Sep 6, 2021

financial regulation - FCA Chair Charles Randall Discusses Crypto, Stablecoins and Digital Asset Regulation

In a speech delivered at the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, FCA and PSR Chair Charles Randall discussed some hot topics in the financial services sector – fraud and scams. More specifically, crypto scams and the regulation of digital assets or tokens.

See:  Moody’s says Crypto regulation a plus for banks, fintechs

Currently, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a limited role in the regulation of crypto assets as well as the platforms that facilitate trading. But this is something that is expected to change in the future.

Regarding crypto scams, Randall started with Kim Kardashian, and when she asked her 250 million followers to speculate on a crypto-asset claiming this may have been the “financial promotion with the single biggest audience reach in history.”

Randall worries that many crypto assets are little more than ephemera:

“There are no assets or real world cashflows underpinning the price of speculative digital tokens, even the better-known ones like Bitcoin, and many cannot even boast a scarcity value. These tokens have only been around for a few years, so we haven’t seen what will happen over a full financial cycle. We simply don’t know when or how this story will end, but – as with any new speculation – it may not end well.”

Meanwhile, a growing number of UK individuals hold digital assets and Randall advises these investors to be prepared to “lose all of your money.”

So should the FCA gain greater authority in the oversight of digital assets as well as marketplaces that enable transactions?

See:  FCA Speech: Levelling the playing field – innovation in the service of consumers and the market

Randall says that “an effective system of regulation of digital tokens has to allow the more promising use cases for the innovative technology that underlies the tokens to flourish – especially the potential to make payments and financial infrastructures more efficient and accessible.” He believes in balanced regulation. Stablecoins are mentioned as an area of interest as this can remove friction (and cost) in the transfer of value.

“The Bank of England is considering the risks that stablecoins could pose to the financial system and monetary policy, but we saw with the UK operations of Wirecard that a player in payments does not have to be systemically important to cause significant consumer distress. So, any stablecoin business we may come to regulate, even if it is not systemic, will need to assure that end users would be able to easily exchange them, access them and use them to make payments safely and securely, with the same level of protection we expect from other types of payment instruments.”

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - FCA Chair Charles Randall Discusses Crypto, Stablecoins and Digital Asset Regulation The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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A Regulated Stablecoin Means Having a Regulator

Paxos | | Jul 21, 2021

regulated vs unregulated stablecoins - A Regulated Stablecoin Means Having a RegulatorDan Burstein is the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Paxos

I have been reading with a combination of disbelief and exasperation the recent claims by Circle that “USDC has become the world’s most trusted and well-regulated dollar digital currency,” as well as claims by Tether that “Tether is registered and regulated.”  Neither USDC nor Tether is a regulated digital asset, for the simple reason that neither token has a regulator. In fact, neither USDC nor Tether tokens are “stablecoins” in anything other than name. These tokens are backed by illiquid and risky debt obligations – a critical weakness that no prudential regulator would allow to exist as this creates undue risk for their customers.

This is the key issue. Even if USDC or Tether adjusted their reserving practices so that their tokens were to actually become stablecoins (legitimately backed, 1:1, by US dollar or equivalents), rather than just in name, that should still be of grave concern to customers, regulators and public interest groups. As we have all seen time and again, proper regulation of financial services firms – which must include comprehensive oversight of the products and services offered by those firms – is the only way to protect clients and customers. What does that mean tangibly? There is direct oversight of client protections, resolution planning if there is a failure, privacy protections, consistent reserving practices plus audits and exams to verify this. In other words, even if USDC or Tether decided to now fully back their tokens with dollars, there would be nothing to prevent them from changing those practices back at will.

See:  A Visual Explanation of Algorithmic Stablecoins

As a former financial regulator, and through my role at Paxos Trust Company, I have participated in the hard work of getting actual regulated stablecoins approved by an actual regulator, subject to the actual limitations that being regulated puts on a token. So I know what it means for a digital asset to be regulated; it means that a prudential regulator imposes safety and soundness requirements on the reserves backing the asset. As this ecosystem rapidly expands, it’s important to clarify what regulation is and what it is not.

This is deeply important as the crypto industry generally and specifically stablecoins shifts from early adopter instruments to mainstream consumer payments for goods and services. This shift has the potential to change the lives of everyone in the world, particularly those without ready access to the financial system — unfortunately, still billions of people today. Transparency in operations is crucial and should be required, but in itself is not enough. Trustworthiness and regulation are instrumental to realizing the enormous potential of stablecoins in the long-term.

REGULATED STABLECOINS

As of today, there are exactly three regulated dollar-backed stablecoins in the world: Paxos Standard (“PAX”) and Binance Dollar (“BUSD”), both issued by Paxos Trust Company, and the Gemini Dollar (“GUSD”), issued by Gemini Trust Company. Paxos and Gemini are both Trust companies regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”).

Read:  Stablecoins: What’s old is new again – speech by Christina Segal-Knowles

Trusts are required to have their products and services approved and supervised by NYDFS. PAX, BUSD and GUSD are expressly approved by the NYDFS and supervised by the regulator on an ongoing basis. This means:

  • The value of each stablecoin token is tied directly to the value of the US dollar, and the amount of “reserve” dollars equal or exceed the number of stablecoins outstanding.
  • Regulators are overseeing the establishment and maintenance of reserves backing the stablecoins.
  • Reserves may only be held in the safest forms, such as FDIC-insured bank accounts and in short-term maturity US Treasury instruments.
  • Reserves are fully segregated from corporate assets, specifically for the benefit of token holders, and are held bankruptcy remote pursuant to the New York Banking Law.

Regulatory oversight is important because it assures stablecoin users that the dollars underlying their stablecoins are secure and will be immediately available when they want them. The NYDFS ensures the Trust companies and their individual tokens are following its strict rules at all times. Additionally, NYDFS regulatory oversight meets the ten high-level recommendations for stablecoins set forth by the Financial Stability Board in an important report issued last year for the G20.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - A Regulated Stablecoin Means Having a Regulator The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Alibaba Donates a Third of Its Cash to Chinese Initiatives. The Stock Is Falling.

Barrons | Jack Denton | Sep 3, 2021

Alibaba donates 15 billion to government tech initiatives for common prosperity - Alibaba Donates a Third of Its Cash to Chinese Initiatives. The Stock Is Falling.

Alibaba stock tumbled in Hong Kong trading, with the company’s U.S.-listed shares set for similar declines, as the Chinese internet giant confirmed Friday a large donation to social and economic programs in its home country.

The stock fell 3.5% in Hong Kong and Alibaba’s American Depositary Receipts were down more than 1% in U.S. premarket trading. The decline weighed down the Hang Seng Tech Index, of which Alibaba is one of the largest constituents, which underperformed the wider Hang Seng to fall 1.1%. Stocks in Shanghai and Hong Kong were broadly lower on Friday amid the release of weak economic data.

See:  Jack Ma’s Double-Whammy Marks the End of China Tech’s Golden Age

The donation of 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) represents more than a third of Alibaba’s $45.2 billion cash pile, as reported in the e-commerce company’s latest quarterly statements up to June 30.

The company will pour money into Chinese initiatives across technology innovation, economic development, job creation, social care, and establishing a “common prosperity” development fund, Alibaba said in a press release on Friday.

The news first broke on Thursday in the state-backed Zhejiang News, Reuters reported.

“Alibaba is a beneficiary of the strong social and economic progress in China over the past 22 years,” said Daniel Zhang, the group’s chair and chief executive, in a statement. “We are eager to do our part to support the realization of common prosperity through high-quality development.”

Alibaba follows in the footsteps of fellow Chinese tech behemoth Tencent , which has announced similarly-sized donations to local initiatives this year. Tech platforms Pinduoduo and auto maker Geely have also recently pledged to take part in a push for common prosperity, as has the founder of e-commerce group Meituan.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Alibaba Donates a Third of Its Cash to Chinese Initiatives. The Stock Is Falling. The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Tether banned on Canada’s first 2 licensed digital currency exchanges

Coingeek | Steve Kaaru | Aug 31, 2021

canadian regulators ban tether - Tether banned on Canada’s first 2 licensed digital currency exchangesA Canadian securities regulator has barred the country’s first two registered digital currency exchanges from trading Tether (USDT). The stablecoin, which is seemingly printed at will and has been deeply linked to alleged market manipulation, is the only prohibited digital asset in the country to date.

The Ontario Securities Commission has a history of being tough against digital currency operators. After giving exchanges an April deadline to license their operations, it has been cracking the whip on those that didn’t, from Poloniex to KuCoinOKEx, and Bybit.

Now, it has set its sights on the world’s biggest stablecoin, USDT.

The commission has barred Coinberry and Wealthsimple exchanges from offering Tether trading services. The two are the first exchanges in Canada to receive an operating license allowing them to offer digital currency trading services across all the provinces in Canada.

Coinberry received its approval from the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) a week ago, allowing it “to offer Canadians crypto-based products and services on a regulated platform.” It boasts of being the first pure-play exchange to receive the license in Canada. Wealthsimple received the approval first, but unlike its peer, it doesn’t allow its users to withdraw their digital assets, much like Robinhood Crypto.

See:  Bitfinex and Tether Fined $18.5M and Banned from Operating in New York

Despite receiving the regulatory approvals to serve Canadians, the two exchanges will not be able to offer USDT. The stablecoin was the only one listed under “Prohibited Crypto Assets,” with the regulator offering no reasoning for its decision.

Banning Tether was justified, and here’s why

The ban on trading of USDT has been a long time coming, and the Ontario regulator has taken a step that many other bigger watchdogs should have years ago.

Tether’s controversies and issues are unending. From market manipulation to shady and unchecked printing of tokens to links with illegal outfits, the stablecoin has it all, and then some.

While it could have listed any of these reasons, the Ontario watchdog chose to shy away, with a representative telling one news outlet, “We do not currently plan to introduce new rules specifically applicable to platforms, as platforms are already subject to existing requirements under securities legislation in Canada.”

See:  Is Tether a Black Swan?

One Canadian lawyer was much blunter, however, citing the endless legal battles by Tether and its sister company Bitfinex as a key factor for the ban in Ontario.

Christine Duhaime stated,

“With respect to Tether and Bitfinex, the report by the New York AG likely did not provide comfort to the securities regulators and in the eyes of a government regulator, is likely going to be viewed as high-risk.”

The lawyer, who specializes in fintech, was referring to an action by Letitia James, the New York Attorney General on Tether and Bitfinex for allegedly suffering an $850 million loss and covering it up. AG James settled with the two earlier this year, requiring them to cease all activities in New York and to pay close to $20 million in fines.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Tether banned on Canada’s first 2 licensed digital currency exchanges The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Alberta and Saskatchewan securities regulators adopt new small business financing prospectus exemption

ASC and FCAA | Aug 31, 2021

Raising capital new exemption - Alberta and Saskatchewan securities regulators adopt new small business financing prospectus exemption

Calgary – The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) and the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA) today adopted a new prospectus exemption designed to facilitate greater access to capital for Alberta and Saskatchewan businesses.

“This exemption joins the self-certified investor prospectus exemption adopted in March 2021, and is the next step in our broader efforts to support innovation and diversification in our provinces,” said Stan Magidson, Chair and CEO of the ASC. “This initiative is intended to address challenges faced by small and early stage businesses in accessing capital, while still addressing investor protection,” added Roger Sobotkiewicz, Chair and CEO of the FCAA.

The new small business financing prospectus exemption allows Alberta and Saskatchewan businesses to raise up to $5 million from the public using a simple, streamlined offering document. The exemption has tiered offering limits depending on whether financial statements are provided to investors.

See:  Canadian securities regulators adopt new nationally harmonized start-up crowdfunding rules

To mitigate the risks to investors, investments are limited, with higher limits possible if financial statements are provided or if the investor either has a certain minimum income or has received investment advice from a registered dealer. The investment limits do not apply to investors who qualify to invest under certain other common prospectus exemptions.

The exemption is being implemented on a three-year pilot basis. Details of the new exemption are set out in CSA Multilateral Notice of Implementation 45-539 Small Business Financing available on the websites of the ASC and the FCAA.

The CSA, the council of the securities regulators of Canada’s provinces and territories, co-ordinates and harmonizes regulation for the Canadian capital markets.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Alberta and Saskatchewan securities regulators adopt new small business financing prospectus exemption The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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After costly legal misstep, Sweden must give Bitcoin worth €1.3 million back to convicted drug dealers

Euro News | Tom Bateman

Unfortunate misstep for legal team - After costly legal misstep, Sweden must give Bitcoin worth €1.3 million back to convicted drug dealersThree convicted drug dealers will have over €1.3 million worth of Bitcoin returned to them by the Swedish government after a legal misstep saw prosecutors value the proceeds of their crime in Swedish Krona and not in crypto.

Prosecutor Tove Kullberg successfully charged the men in April 2019, arguing that 36 Bitcoin seized by Swedish police the year before should be confiscated as they were earned through their illegal online drug sales.

However, in her indictment, Kullberg converted the value of the cryptocurrency to Swedish krona, meaning the government was only legally entitled to seize the cash value of the Bitcoin at the time - roughly 1.3 million krona (€127,000).

"It is unfortunate in many ways," she told national broadcaster Sveriges Radio. "It has led to consequences I was not able to foresee at the time".

According to Kullberg, the case was among the first occasions Swedish prosecutors had been faced with handling the proceeds of crime denominated in cryptocurrency.

How did this happen?

After the men were sent to prison in May 2019, it fell to Sweden's State Enforcement Authority to auction off the proceeds of the drug crime, a process that took over two years to carry out.

In that time, the value of the 36 Bitcoin skyrocketed from roughly €130,000 to almost €1.5 million today.

See:  SEC v. Ripple Legal Weeds: SEC caught erasing documents relevant to XRP lawsuit

"This means that when these Bitcoins are liquidated, there will be Bitcoin left over because the debt will be covered much faster," Kullberg told Sveriges Radio.

The men's debts will be covered by the sale of roughly three Bitcoin at today's prices, meaning the remaining balance of around 33 will be returned to them by the Swedish state.

"It is unfortunate that it has ended up this way. The lesson to be learned from this is to keep the value in Bitcoin. That the proceeds of crime are 36 Bitcoin, regardless of the value of the Bitcoin at the time," she said.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - After costly legal misstep, Sweden must give Bitcoin worth €1.3 million back to convicted drug dealers The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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