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Gary DeWaal Talks With Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal on Cryptocurrency Fraud Cases

Firm News | September 14, 2018

Financial Services Special Counsel Gary DeWaal, spoke with Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) recent victory in a groundbreaking cybersecurity fraud case involving ICO-issued securities. Eastern District of New York Judge Raymond Dearie ruled in favor of the DOJ, finding that initial coin offerings (ICOs) are potentially subject to US securities-fraud laws. While the ruling only pertains to the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) case against Maksim Zaslavskiy in the context of a motion to dismiss an indictment, Gary noted that the decision is important for both the DOJ and the SEC as it confirms that ICO-issued digital assets could be securities. He told The Wall Street Journal, "This will certainly empower the Justice Department to bring other cases in this space. The courts are confirming the regulators' position."

Additionally, Bloomberg reported on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's (FINRA) first cryptocurrency action, naming Timothy Tilton Ayre for offering and selling unregistered digital coins—HempCoin (HMP)—to fund his public company. Gary stated, "These cases serve as a reminder that if the SEC and FINRA regard a digital asset as a security, they will be vigilant in going after persons who violate securities laws and rules—particularly where they believe fraud has occurred. The court decision provides a stark warning that courts are willing to support regulators' views that digital tokens can be securities."

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