SEC and CFTC Issue Joint Statement on Virtual Currency Enforcement Actions

Ballard Spahr LLP

The following joint statement was issued this last week from the Enforcement Directors of the Securities Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission:

"When market participants engage in fraud under the guise of offering digital instruments – whether characterized as virtual currencies, coins, tokens, or the like – the SEC and the CFTC will look beyond form, examine the substance of the activity and prosecute violations of the federal securities and commodities laws. The Divisions of Enforcement for the SEC and CFTC will continue to address violations and bring actions to stop and prevent fraud in the offer and sale of digital instruments."

TLast week’s statement comes immediately on the heels of the CFTC filing charges against three separate virtual currency operators based upon fraud allegations.

This is the latest reiteration of the SEC and CFTC Enforcement Divisions’ developing position that virtual currencies and related digital assets are, under existing legal standards, securities subject to their jurisdiction. The SEC has made digital assets an enforcement priority since forming its new Cyber Unit in September 2017. The Cyber Unit filed its first charges in December 2017 against PlexCorps, alleging its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) was a fraud.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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