Archive for the ‘SEC’ Category

New SEC lawsuit could decide the fate of dozens of blockchain projects

June 6th, 2019
Kik CEO Ted Livingston.

Enlarge / Kik CEO Ted Livingston. (credit: Alex Flynn/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against social media company Kik over its creation and sale of a cryptocurrency called Kin back in 2017. Kik is vowing to fight the lawsuit, setting the stage for a landmark ruling on how securities laws apply to the sale of digital tokens online.

The case is important because the Kin sale was one of thousands of so-called initial coin offerings held in the last three years. The Kin sale generated almost $100 million in revenue, and coin offerings have collectively raised billions of dollars. Most organizers did not file the kind of disclosure forms that the law requires for conventional stock sales.

The big question is whether the law required them to do so. We don't yet have a clear answer, largely because the SEC has been slow to address the issue.

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Posted in howey test, kik, kin, Policy, SEC, securities laws | Comments (0)

Cryptocurrency firms renew push to break free from SEC rules

June 1st, 2019
Stylized, composite image of bitcoins against motherboards.


Many cryptocurrency startups and investors are unhappy with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s uncertain approach to the sector, saying the agency is killing innovation and driving companies from the US. Now the Canadian social media company Kik—backed by prominent voices in the crypto world—is stepping up its effort to use the courts to force the SEC’s hand.

On Tuesday, Kik announced a crowdfunding effort to help it fight the SEC over the company’s 2017 initial coin offering, in which it sold nearly $100 million worth of a token it called kin. The company says it sold a currency that could be used across a network of apps, whether to get paid for taking surveys or to buy new stickers and themes. The SEC disagrees, arguing in a proposed action last November that kin are securities—investments subject to strict rules about how they can be sold.

Kik’s fight has drawn interest from major investors and cryptocurrency exchanges such as Circle, that are hoping for changes in how tokens are regulated. By drawing the SEC into a legal battle, Kik and its backers are hoping the courts will devise rules that would impact a wide array of crypto companies. The catch? The SEC hasn’t taken any action yet, and it’s unclear if it will.

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Posted in Biz & IT, cryptocurrency, SEC | Comments (0)

Elon Musk reaches settlement in SEC tweet battle

April 26th, 2019
Elon Musk exits federal court on April 4, 2019 in New York City.

Enlarge / Elon Musk exits federal court on April 4, 2019 in New York City. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Elon Musk has reached a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the two parties said in a legal filing on Friday. The new agreement provides much more detailed guidance about when tweets and other public statements by Musk must be approved by Tesla lawyers.

Musk's original deal with the SEC was announced last September. It required Musk to obtain pre-approval for tweets that "contain or could contain" information that's material—legal jargon for information that's significant to shareholders. While the SEC expected Musk to begin regularly clearing tweets with lawyers, Musk interpreted this language as giving him significant discretion to decide for himself which tweets contained material information. As a result, he didn't seek legal review for any tweets in the first few months the agreement was in effect.

In February, Musk tweeted that Tesla "will make around 500k in 2019." Hours later, he followed up with a clarifying tweet, stating that he "meant to say annualized production rate at end of 2019 probably around 500k." Musk didn't get this tweet cleared by Tesla lawyers. The SEC viewed that as a violation of the agreement and asked Judge Nathan to hold Musk in contempt.

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Posted in Alison Nathan, cars, Elon Musk, Policy, SEC, Tesla | Comments (0)

Elon Musk’s latest defense: Tesla says my tweets were kosher

March 24th, 2019
Elon Musk.

Enlarge / Elon Musk. (credit: DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Elon Musk has filed another round of arguments in his month-long battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a February 19 tweet about Tesla's production goals.

As part of a September settlement, Musk promised to get sign-off from Tesla lawyers for any tweets that "contain, or reasonably could contain" material information—legal jargon for information that's significant for people trading Tesla's stock. The SEC argues that Musk's February tweet, stating that Tesla would produce "around 500k" vehicles in 2019, violated that requirement.

Musk disagrees. He argues that he was merely repeating Tesla's earlier production estimates. And he insists he was entitled to use his own judgment to determine the information was not material—and therefore didn't require pre-approval by Tesla's lawyers.

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Posted in cars, SEC, securities fraud, Tesla | Comments (0)

Musk defense “borders on the ridiculous,” SEC tells court

March 19th, 2019
Elon Musk

Enlarge (credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The Securities and Exchange Commission heaped scorn on Elon Musk and his legal arguments in a Monday legal filing. The agency is asking New York federal Judge Alison Nathan to hold Musk in contempt for tweeting a projection of 2019 vehicle output without first getting the tweet approved by Tesla's lawyers.

Musk has been battling the SEC since last August, when he tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private. That turned out to be untrue, and it's illegal to publish inaccurate information that has the potential to move markets. Under the terms of a September deal, Musk paid a $20 million fine and gave up his role as the chairman of Tesla's board (Tesla paid an additional $20 million).

Musk also promised to have Tesla lawyers review future tweets that could contain information that is "material"—that is, significant enough to affect the price of Tesla's stock.

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Posted in cars, Elon Musk, Funding secured, SEC | Comments (0)

Elon Musk said he doesn’t respect the SEC—he might come to regret it

February 28th, 2019
Elon Musk

Enlarge / Elon Musk in 2015. (credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge has given Elon Musk until March 11 to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt. The Securities and Exchange Commission requested the judge's move on Monday, arguing that a recent tweet about Tesla's 2019 production plans was inaccurate and breached a settlement Musk signed in September.

But Musk shows no sign of backing down. "Something is broken with SEC oversight," he tweeted on Tuesday.

Musk may ultimately regret taking such a defiant tone.

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Posted in cars, Elon Musk, Funding secured, Policy, SEC, Tesla | Comments (0)

Elon Musk is in trouble with the SEC over his tweets—again

February 26th, 2019
Elon Musk

Enlarge (credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked a federal judge to hold Elon Musk in contempt for tweeting last Tuesday that "Tesla made 0 cars in 2011, but will make around 500k in 2019." In reality, Tesla only expects to produce 400,000 cars in 2019. And the SEC argues the tweet ran afoul of an October settlement requiring Musk to seek pre-approval from Tesla lawyers before tweeting out potentially market-moving information.

Musk agreed to this restriction to settle an SEC lawsuit over a previous tweet in which Musk claimed that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private at $420 per share. The public soon discovered that Musk had not actually secured funding for such a transaction, and federal securities laws make it illegal for the CEO of a publicly-traded company to publish misleading market-moving information.

In his settlement with the SEC, Musk agreed to pay a $20 million fine and give up his position as the chairman of Tesla's board. And to make sure Musk didn't mislead investors again, the SEC required Tesla to develop a process for pre-approving all Musk tweets that contain potentially market-moving information.

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Posted in cars, Elon Musk, never tweet, SEC, Shortseller Enrichment Commission, tweets | Comments (0)

Nine defendants charged in SEC hacking scheme that netted $4.1 million

January 15th, 2019
Nine defendants charged in SEC hacking scheme that netted $4.1 million

Enlarge (credit: Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images)

Federal authorities have charged nine defendants with participating in a scheme to hack a Securities and Exchange Commission database to steal confidential information that netted $4.1 million in illegal stock trade profits.

Two of the defendants, federal prosecutors in New Jersey said, breached SEC networks starting in May 2016 by subjecting them to hacks that included directory traversal, phishing attacks, and infecting computers with malware. From there, the defendants allegedly accessed EDGAR (the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) and stole nonpublic earnings reports that publicly traded companies had filed with the commission. The hackers then passed the confidential information to individuals who used it to trade in the narrow window between when the files were stolen and when the companies released the information to the public.

“Defendants’ scheme reaped over $4.1 million in gross ill-gotten gains from trading based on nonpublic EDGAR filings,” SEC officials charged in a civil complaint. It named Ukrainian nationalist Oleksandr Ieremenko as a hacker, along with six individual traders in California, Ukraine, and Russia, and it also named two entities. A criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors in New Jersey charged Ieremenko and a separate Ukrainian named Artem Radchenko with carrying out the hack.

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Posted in Biz & IT, edgar, hacking, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission | Comments (0)

SEC fines two celebrities for undisclosed cryptocurrency shilling

November 29th, 2018
Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2014.

Enlarge / Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2014. (credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

One of the strangest episodes in last year's insane cryptocurrency boom was when boxer Floyd Mayweather posted an Instagram endorsement for a little-known cryptocurrency called Centra. In April, Centra's founders were indicted for fraud, with the SEC saying many of their claims were "simply false."

In the summer of 2017, Mayweather wrote in an Instagram post that he was "spending bitcoins and ethereum and other types of cryptocurrency in Beverly Hills with my Titanium Centra Card." He urged his millions of followers to "join Centra's ICO on Sept. 19th."

Another Mayweather post promoting a different cryptocurrency said "You can call me Floyd Crypto Mayweather from now on."

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Posted in Centra, cryptocurrency, Floyd Mayweather, Policy, SEC | Comments (0)