On March 9, the New York attorney general filed a petition in state court against a virtual currency trading platform (respondent) for allegedly failing to register as a securities and commodities broker-dealer and falsely representing itself as a cryptocurrency exchange. The respondent’s website and mobile application enable investors to buy and sell cryptocurrency, including certain popular virtual currencies that are allegedly securities and commodities. The AG noted that this is one of the first times a regulator is making a claim in court that one of the largest cryptocurrencies available in the market is a security. According to the announcement, this cryptocurrency “is a speculative asset that relies on the efforts of third-party developers in order to provide profit to the holders.” As such, the respondent was required to register before selling the crypto assets, the AG said, further maintaining that the respondent also sells unregistered securities in the form of a lending and staking product. According to the AG, securities and commodities brokers are required to register with the state, which the respondent allegedly failed to do. Additionally, the respondent claimed to be an exchange but failed to appropriately register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be designated by the CFTC as required under New York law. Nor did the respondent comply with a subpoena requesting additional information about its crypto-asset trading activities in the state, the AG said, noting that the respondent has already been found to be operating in multiple jurisdictions without proper licensure. The state seeks a court order (i) preventing the respondent from misrepresenting that it is an exchange; (ii) banning the respondent from operating in the state; and (iii) directing the respondent to undertake measures to prevent access to its mobile application, website, and services from within New York.
Last month the AG filed a similar petition against another virtual currency trading platform alleging similar violations (covered by InfoBytes here).
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