A Taxonomy of Cryptocurrency Enforcement Actions

Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial and Commercial Law (2020)

Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 2019-63

21 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2019

See all articles by Peter J. Henning

Peter J. Henning

Wayne State University Law School

Date Written: October 15, 2019

Abstract

This article looks at how the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice have pursued cases involving cryptocurrencies. A number of prosecutions have been brought against defendants who misled investors into believing that they were obtaining cryptocurrencies when in fact there were simply false statements and schemes to defraud, such as Ponzi schemes. When a company has attempted to issue a cryptocurrency to investors, the S.E.C. has relied on Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933 to require that issuers file a registration statement with the Commission. This is not an easy process, and requires extensive disclosures that issuers of cryptocurrencies have found confounding. There is one possible way around those restrictions if an issuer relies on Regulation D or Regulation A+ to issue the cryptocurrency, but even that may require approval by the S.E.C. before proceeding, so there is some risk in using that route. So will we see broader issuance of cryptocurrencies? The short answer is “no” because the S.E.C., apart from Commissioner Hester Peirce, has shown a distinct hostility toward companies trying to issue cryptocurrencies. Is there a way around this? Perhaps, if a firm is willing to follow all the rules for a Regulation D or Regulation A+ offering it might be possible, but no one should be holding their breath for the S.E.C. to approve the issuance of a cryptocurrency.

Keywords: Securities enforcement. White Collar Crime. Cryptocurrencies

Suggested Citation

Henning, Peter J., A Taxonomy of Cryptocurrency Enforcement Actions (October 15, 2019). Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial and Commercial Law (2020); Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 2019-63. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3483198

Peter J. Henning (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 West Palmer Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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