SEC发布关于数字资产证券发行与交易的声明

来源:https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/digital-asset-securites-issuuance-and-trading?from=timeline&isappinstalled=0#_edn4

翻译:比特律团队

SEC数字资产证券发行与交易声明

——公司财务部,投资管理部和贸易与市场部

2018年11月16日

近年来,我们看到了影响我们证券市场的技术的重大进步 - 包括区块链和其他分布式账本技术。该声明[1]  强调了委员会最近的一些执法行动,涉及我们联邦证券法和新技术的长期应用。

委员会的公司财务,投资管理,贸易和市场部门(“部门”)鼓励有利于投资者和资本市场的技术创新,我们一直在与市场参与者就新技术提出的问题进行磋商。[2]   然而,我们希望强调,无论证券是以认证形式发行还是使用新技术,市场参与者在处理技术创新时仍必须遵守我们完善和运作良好的联邦证券法框架,比如区块链。

委员会最近的执法行动涉及AirFox,Paragon,Crypto Asset Management,TokenLot和EtherDelta的创始人[3],  下面进一步讨论,说明了遵守这些要求的重要性。从广义上讲,这些行动中提出的问题分为三类:(1)初始报价和数字资产证券的销售(包括初始硬币发行(“ICO”)); (2)投资于数字资产证券的投资工具及向其他人投资该等证券的投资工具; (3)数字资产证券的二级市场交易。下面,我们提供各部门对这些问题的看法。 

数字资产证券的发售和销售

委员会提出了一系列涉及数字资产证券发行的行动。迄今为止,这些行动主要集中在两个重要问题上。首先,何时数字资产是联邦证券法的“安全”?[4]  其次,如果数字资产是证券,那么委员会的注册要求是什么?[5]  最近委员会涉及数字资产证券的一些执法行动说明了这些问题和相关问题的重要性。特别是,其中两个问题的补救措施证明了解决进行非法未注册的数字资产证券发行的持续违规行为的方法。

今天,欧盟委员会就其未注册的代币产品向AirFox和Paragon发出了解决方案。根据这些订单,AirFox和Paragon将支付罚款,并承诺根据1934年“证券交易法”(“交易法”)第12(g)条将代币登记为证券,并向委员会提交定期报告。如果投资者选择提出索赔,他们还同意赔偿在非法发行中购买代币的投资者。注册承诺旨在确保投资者获得在这些发行人在其各自的ICO中出售和出售代币之前遵守1933年证券法(“证券法”)的注册条款时所获得的信息类型。 。[6]

这两个事项表明,即使发行人进行了非法未注册的数字资产证券发行,也有可能遵守联邦证券法的规定。

投资车辆投资数字资产证券

1940年的“投资公司法”(“投资公司法”)为投资证券的集合车辆建立了注册和监管框架。该框架适用于集合投资工具及其服务提供商,即使其投资的证券是数字资产证券。[7]

2018年9月11日,欧盟委员会发布了加密资产管理令,发现为投资数字资产而成立的对冲基金经理未能将该基金注册为投资公司。该命令发现该经理从事非法,未注册,非豁免的公开发行基金。通过将超过40%的基金资产投资于数字资产证券并参与基金的公开发行,该基金经理使该基金作为未注册的投资公司非法经营。该命令还发现该基金的经理是一名投资顾问,并且该经理违反了1940年投资顾问法案(“顾问法案”)的反欺诈条款,向该基金的投资者作出了误导性陈述。

持有数字资产证券的投资工具和建议其他人投资数字资产证券的投资工具,包括投资工具的管理者,必须注意“投资公司法”和“顾问法”规定的注册,监管和信托义务。[8] 

数字资产证券交易

涉及数字资产证券二级市场交易的委员会行动[9]和工作人员声明[10]一般侧重于哪些活动需要注册为国家证券交易所或注册为经纪人或交易商,因为这些条款是根据联邦证券法定义的。

交易所注册

区块链和分布式账本技术的进步引入了促进数字资产证券电子交易的创新方法。例如,通俗地称为“分散”交易平台的平台将传统技术(例如接受和显示订单的基于Web的系统和存储订单的服务器)与新技术(例如在包含编码的区块链上运行的智能合约)相结合执行合同条款的协议)。这些技术为投资者和市场参与者提供了寻找交易对手,发现价格和交易各种数字资产证券的手段。

提供数字资产证券交易并作为“交易所”(由联邦证券法定义)运营的平台必须在委员会注册为国家证券交易所或免于注册。欧盟委员会最近针对促进数字资产证券交易的平台EtherDelta创始人的执法行动强调了交易和市场部门对于促进数字资产证券交易的平台未能向委员会注册而无需豁免的持续担忧。注册。[11]

根据委员会的命令,EtherDelta-未以任何身份向委员会注册 - 通过联合使用订单簿,显示订单的网站和智能,提供了一个将买卖双方聚集在一起的数字资产证券的市场。合约在以太坊区块链上运行。EtherDelta的智能合约被编码为(其中包括)验证订单消息,确认订单的条款和条件,执行配对订单以及指示更新分布式分类帐以反映交易。[12] 委员会发现,EtherDelta的活动明显属于交易所的定义,并且EtherDelta的创始人导致该平台未能注册为国家证券交易所或根据豁免注册作为交易所运营。[13]

任何实体[14]提供市场,将证券买卖双方汇集在一起,无论应用何种技术,都必须确定其活动是否符合联邦证券法规定的交易所定义。交易法第3b-16条提供了一项功能测试,用于评估一个实体是否符合“交易法”第3(a)(1)节中的交换定义。符合交易所定义的实体必须在委员会注册为国家证券交易所或免于注册,例如作为符合ATS规则的替代交易系统(“ATS”)运营。

尽管实体可以表征自己或用于汇集买卖双方的特定活动或技术,但在评估系统是否构成交换时,将采用功能性方法(考虑相关事实和情况)。[15]  买方和卖方之间实际发生的活动 - 而不是运营或推广系统的实体所使用的技术或术语 - 确定系统是否作为市场运作并符合规则3b-16中的交换标准(一个)。例如,出于规则3b-16的目的,术语“订单”旨在被广泛地解释,并且系统上的买方和卖方之间的实际活动 - 而不是分配给交易利益指示的标签 - 将被考虑用于交流分析。[16]

交换分析包括使用“已建立的非自由裁量方法”(用于此类订单相互作用)对用于将多个买方和卖方的证券订单汇集在一起的活动和技术的总体评估。[17]   系统“将买方和卖方的订单汇集在一起”,例如,如果它显示或以其他方式表示将在系统上输入的利息交易给用户,或者如果系统集中接收用户的订单以供将来处理和执行。[18]

如果系统提供交易设施或设定规则,则系统使用已建立的非自由裁量方法。例如,提供算法,在计算机程序上运行或使用区块链技术在智能合约上运行的实体作为汇集或执行订单的手段可以提供交易设施。作为另一个例子,设置执行优先级,标准化系统上交易的数字资产证券的物料条款,或者要求订单符合智能合约的预定协议的实体可以是设定规则。另外,如果一个实体直接或间接地安排其他实体来提供交易系统的各种功能,这些功能一起满足交换的定义,则可以认为安排集体努力的实体已经建立了交换。

使用区块链或分布式分类账技术进行数字资产交易的实体应该持续仔细审查其活动,以确定他们交易的数字资产是否是证券,以及他们的活动或服务是否使他们满足交易所的定义。参与此类活动的实体还应考虑除交易所登记要求之外的联邦证券法(以及其他相关法律和监管问题)的其他方面。

经纪人 - 经销商注册

促进ICO中数字资产证券发行和数字资产证券二级交易的实体也可以作为“经纪人”或“交易商”,需要向委员会注册并成为自律组织的成员。 ,通常是FINRA。除其他事项外,美国证券交易委员会注册的经纪自营商受法律和监管要求的约束,这些要求决定了他们在市场中的行为,并为投资者提供了重要的保障。

“交易法”第15(a)条规定,在没有例外或豁免的情况下,任何经纪人或交易商诱使或试图诱使购买或出售任何证券是非法的,除非该经纪人或交易商按照“交易法”第15(b)条。“交易法”第3(a)(4)条一般将“经纪人”定义为从事为他人账户进行证券交易的任何人。“交易法”第3(a)(5)条一般将“交易商”定义为通过经纪人或其他方式从事为该人自己的账户买卖证券业务的任何人。与“交换”决心一样,[19]

委员会最近的TokenLot命令说明了经纪人 - 经销商注册要求适用于交易或促进数字资产证券交易的实体,即使它们不符合交易所的定义。根据订单,TokenLot是一个自我描述的“ICO超市”,投资者可以在ICO期间或之后购买数字资产,包括数字资产证券,包括私人销售和预售。双方的经纪活动包括营销和促进数字资产的销售,接受投资者的订单和支付资金,以及支付发行人的收益。他们还根据ICO筹集的所得款项的百分比获得赔偿,但须保证最低佣金。

结论

该部门鼓励和支持我们证券市场的创新和有益技术的应用。但是,各司建议那些雇用新技术的人就法律顾问就联邦证券法的适用问题进行咨询,并在必要时与委员会工作人员联系以寻求帮助。欲了解更多信息,并联系委员会工作人员寻求帮助,请访问委员会新的  FinHub  页面。  


[1] 本声明代表公司财务,投资管理,贸易和市场部门的观点。它不是证券交易委员会(“委员会”)的规则,规定或声明。委员会既没有批准也没有批准其内容。  

[2] 委员会主席和公司财务司司长也就此问题发表了公开声明。参见,例如,关于加密货币和初始硬币产品的声明(2017年12月11日),可在  https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/statement-clayton-2017-12-11获得 ; 数字资产交易:Howey Met Gary(塑料)(2018年6月14日),见  https://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speech-hinman-061418。

[3]见CarrierEQ,Inc.,Rel。第33-10575号(2018年11月16日); Paragon Coin,Inc.,Rel。第33-10574号(2018年11月16日); Zachary Coburn,Rel。第34-84553号(2018年11月8日)(已落实的命令)(“Coburn Order”); Crypto Asset Management,LP和Timothy Enneking,Rel。第33-10544号(2018年9月11日)(已结算订单)(“加密资产管理令”); 和  Tokenlot LLC,Lenny Kugel和Eli L. Lewitt,Rel。No. 33-10543(2018年9月11日)(已结算订单)(“TokenLot Order”)。

[4]  2017年7月27日,委员会发布了一份报告,其中得出的结论是,特定数字资产是证券,并解释说,除非适用有效豁免,否则数字资产证券发行人必须登记此类证券的要约和销售。调查报告根据1934年证券交易法第21(a)节:DAO(2017年7月25日)(“DAO报告”),可在  https://www.sec.gov/litigation/investreport/34获取-81207.pdf。2017年12月11日,委员会发布了针对名为Munchee,Inc。的发行人的已结算订单,明确表示即使具有一些声称的实用程序,令牌也可能是证券。  Munchee,Inc.,证券法Rel。第10445号(2017年12月11日)(已结算订单)(“Munchee Order”)。DAO报告和Munchee Order共同强调,作为投资合同提供和出售的数字资产(无论交易中使用的术语或技术如何)都是证券。  

[5]如果提供或出售证券,美国证券法的反欺诈保护适用。委员会已提起若干涉及数字资产的执法行动,包括那些指控欺诈性ICO的行为。请参阅  https://www.sec.gov/spotlight/cybersecurity-enforcement-actions (列出与数字资产相关的执法行动)。

[6] 如本文所讨论的,与数字资产证券的提供和销售有关的活动也可以引起联邦证券法下的其他法律和监管问题和考虑因素,包括例如经纪人和交易商登记考虑因素。 

[7]有关与投资某些数字资产的注册投资公司相关的一些问题的讨论,请参阅ICI和SIFMA AMG的工作人员信函:参与基金创新和加密相关控股,可在  https:// www。 sec.gov/investment/fund-innovation-cryptocurrency-related-holdings。

[8] 此外,汇集投资工具不仅投资证券,而且自身也是证券发行人。虽然这里没有涉及,但是当证券使用新技术(如区块链)时,与投资工具的证券发售和销售相关的联邦证券法的要求同样适用。

[9]参见,例如Coburn Order和TokenLot Order。

[10] 见执法和交易与市场分部,关于数字资产交易的潜在非法在线平台的声明(2018年3月7日),可在  https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/enforcement-tm获取-statement-potential-illegal-non -ful-online-platforms-trading。

[11] 见id。

[12]Coburn命令为6-7。

[13]如Coburn Order所述,委员会的调查结果是根据被告的和解提议作出的,并不对任何其他人或实体具有约束力。

[14] 本声明中讨论的相关法律和监管要求适用于自然人或实体。但是,为便于参考,本声明通常仅指实体。  

[15] 在其通过释放的法规ATS中,委员会讨论了构成交换的内容,并提供了说明规则3b-16的各种应用的示例。参见  交易所和替代交易系统的监管,交易法案Rel。第40760号(1998年12月8日),63 FR 70844(1998年12月22日),可在  https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-12-22/pdf/98-获取33299.pdf。

[16] 一般见id。在70844。      

[17] 见id。在70852。

[18] 见id。在70852。

[19] 根据联邦证券法,参与数字资产证券活动的实体还有其他潜在的法律和监管问题和考虑因素,包括清算机构和转让代理注册等。  

原文如下:

Statement on Digital Asset Securities Issuance and Trading

Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Investment Management, and Division of Trading and Markets

Nov. 16, 2018

In recent years, we have seen significant advances in technologies – including blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies – that impact our securities markets. This statement[1] highlights several recent Commission enforcement actions involving the intersection of long-standing applications of our federal securities laws and new technologies.

The Commission's Divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management, and Trading and Markets (the "Divisions") encourage technological innovations that benefit investors and our capital markets, and we have been consulting with market participants regarding issues presented by new technologies.[2]  We wish to emphasize, however, that market participants must still adhere to our well-established and well-functioning federal securities law framework when dealing with technological innovations, regardless of whether the securities are issued in certificated form or using new technologies, such as blockchain.

The Commission's recent enforcement actions involving AirFox, Paragon, Crypto Asset Management, TokenLot, and EtherDelta's founder,[3] discussed further below, illustrate the importance of complying with these requirements. Broadly speaking, the issues raised in these actions fall into three categories: (1) initial offers and sales of digital asset securities (including those issued in initial coin offerings ("ICOs")); (2) investment vehicles investing in digital asset securities and those who advise others about investing in these securities; and (3) secondary market trading of digital asset securities. Below, we provide the Divisions' views on these issues. 

Offers and Sales of Digital Asset Securities

The Commission has brought a number of actions involving offerings of digital asset securities. To date, these actions have principally focused on two important questions.  First, when is a digital asset a "security" for purposes of the federal securities laws?[4] Second, if a digital asset is a security, what Commission registration requirements apply?[5] The importance of these and related issues is illustrated by several recent Commission enforcement actions involving digital asset securities. In particular, the remedial measures in two of these matters demonstrate a way to address ongoing violations by issuers that have conducted illegal unregistered offerings of digital asset securities.

Today, the Commission issued settled orders against AirFox and Paragon in connection with their unregistered offerings of tokens. Pursuant to these orders, AirFox and Paragon will pay penalties and also have undertaken to register the tokens as securities under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 ("Exchange Act") and to file periodic reports with the Commission. They have also agreed to compensate investors who purchased tokens in the illegal offerings if an investor elects to make a claim. The registration undertakings are designed to ensure that investors receive the type of information they would have received had these issuers complied with the registration provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 ("Securities Act") prior to the offer and sale of tokens in their respective ICOs. With the benefit of the ongoing disclosure provided by registration under the Exchange Act, investors who purchased the tokens from the issuers in the ICOs should be able to make a more informed decision as to whether to seek reimbursement or continue to hold their tokens.[6]

These two matters demonstrate that there is a path to compliance with the federal securities laws going forward, even where issuers have conducted an illegal unregistered offering of digital asset securities.

Investment Vehicles Investing in Digital Asset Securities

The Investment Company Act of 1940 ("Investment Company Act") establishes a registration and regulatory framework for pooled vehicles that invest in securities. This framework applies to a pooled investment vehicle, and its service providers, even when the securities in which it invests are digital asset securities.[7]

On Sept. 11, 2018, the Commission issued the Crypto Asset Management Order, finding that the manager of a hedge fund formed for the purpose of investing in digital assets had improperly failed to register the fund as an investment company. The order found that the manager engaged in an unlawful, unregistered, non-exempt, public offering of the fund. By investing more than 40 percent of the fund's assets in digital asset securities and engaging in a public offering of interests in the fund, the manager caused the fund to operate unlawfully as an unregistered investment company. The order also found that the fund's manager was an investment adviser, and that the manager had violated the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 ("Advisers Act") by making misleading statements to investors in the fund.

Investment vehicles that hold digital asset securities and those who advise others about investing in digital asset securities, including managers of investment vehicles, must be mindful of registration, regulatory and fiduciary obligations under the Investment Company Act and the Advisers Act.[8] 

Trading of Digital Asset Securities

Commission actions[9]and staff statements[10]involving secondary market trading of digital asset securities have generally focused on what activities require registration as a national securities exchange or registration as a broker or dealer, as those terms are defined under the federal securities laws.

Exchange Registration

Advancements in blockchain and distributed ledger technology have introduced innovative methods for facilitating electronic trading in digital asset securities. Platforms colloquially referred to as "decentralized" trading platforms, for example, combine traditional technology (such as web-based systems that accept and display orders and servers that store orders) with new technology (such as smart contracts run on a blockchain that contain coded protocols to execute the terms of the contract). These technologies provide the means for investors and market participants to find counterparties, discover prices, and trade a variety of digital asset securities.

A platform that offers trading in digital asset securities and operates as an "exchange" (as defined by the federal securities laws) must register with the Commission as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration. The Commission's recent enforcement action against the founder of EtherDelta, a platform facilitating trading digital assets securities, underscores the Division of Trading and Markets' ongoing concerns about the failure of platforms that facilitate trading in digital asset securities to register with the Commission absent an exemption from registration.[11]

According to the Commission's order, EtherDelta—which was not registered with the Commission in any capacity—provided a marketplace for bringing together buyers and sellers for digital asset securities through the combined use of an order book, a website that displayed orders, and a smart contract run on the Ethereum blockchain.  EtherDelta's smart contract was coded to, among other things, validate order messages, confirm the terms and conditions of orders, execute paired orders, and direct the distributed ledger to be updated to reflect a trade.[12] The Commission found that EtherDelta's activities clearly fell within the definition of an exchange and that EtherDelta's founder caused the platform’s failure either to register as a national securities exchange or operate pursuant to an exemption from registration as an exchange.[13]

Any entity[14]that provides a marketplace for bringing together buyers and sellers of securities, regardless of the applied technology, must determine whether its activities meet the definition of an exchange under the federal securities laws. Exchange Act Rule 3b-16 provides a functional test to assess whether an entity meets the definition of an exchange under Section 3(a)(1) of the Exchange Act. An entity that meets the definition of an exchange must register with the Commission as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration, such as by operating as an alternative trading system ("ATS") in compliance with Regulation ATS.

Notwithstanding how an entity may characterize itself or the particular activities or technology used to bring together buyers and sellers, a functional approach (taking into account the relevant facts and circumstances) will be applied when assessing whether a system constitutes an exchange.[15]  The activity that actually occurs between the buyers and sellers—and not the kind of technology or the terminology used by the entity operating or promoting the system—determines whether the system operates as a marketplace and meets the criteria of an exchange under Rule 3b-16(a).  For instance, the term “order” for purposes of Rule 3b-16 is intended to be broadly construed, and the actual activities among buyers and sellers on the system—not the labels assigned to indications of trading interest—will be considered for purposes of the exchange analysis.[16]

The exchange analysis includes an assessment of the totality of activities and technology used to bring together orders of multiple buyers and sellers for securities using “established non-discretionary methods”under which such orders interact.[17]  A system “brings together orders of buyer and sellers” if, for example, it displays, or otherwise represents, trading interest entered on a system to users or if the system receives users’ orders centrally for future processing and execution.[18]

A system uses established non-discretionary methods if it provides a trading facility or sets rules.  For example, an entity that provides an algorithm, run on a computer program or on a smart contract using blockchain technology, as a means to bring together or execute orders could be providing a trading facility. As another example, an entity that sets execution priorities, standardizes material terms for digital asset securities traded on the system, or requires orders to conform with predetermined protocols of a smart contract, could be setting rules. Additionally, if one entity arranges for other entities, either directly or indirectly, to provide the various functions of a trading system that together meet the definition of an exchange, the entity arranging the collective efforts could be considered to have established an exchange.

Entities using blockchain or distributed ledger technology for trading digital assets should carefully review their activities on an ongoing basis to determine whether the digital assets they are trading are securities and whether their activities or services cause them to satisfy the definition of an exchange. An entity engaging in these types of activities should also consider other aspects of the federal securities laws (and other relevant legal and regulatory issues) beyond exchange registration requirements.

Broker-Dealer Registration

An entity that facilitates the issuance of digital asset securities in ICOs and secondary trading in digital asset securities may also be acting as a "broker" or "dealer" that is required to register with the Commission and become a member of a self-regulatory organization, typically FINRA.  Among other things, SEC-registered broker-dealers are subject to legal and regulatory requirements that govern their conduct in the marketplace and that provide important safeguards for investors.

Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act provides that, absent an exception or exemption, it is unlawful for any broker or dealer to induce or attempt to induce the purchase or sale, of any security unless such broker or dealer is registered in accordance with Section 15(b) of the Exchange Act. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act generally defines a "broker" to mean any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others. Section 3(a)(5) of the Exchange Act generally defines a "dealer" to mean any person engaged in the business of buying and selling securities for such person's own account through a broker or otherwise. As with the "exchange" determination, a functional approach (taking into account the relevant facts and circumstances) is applied to assess whether an entity meets the definition of a broker or dealer, regardless of how an entity may characterize either itself or the particular activities or technology used to provide the services.[19]

The Commission's recent TokenLot Order illustrates the application of the broker-dealer registration requirements to entities trading or facilitating transactions in digital asset securities, even if they do not meet the definition of an exchange. According to the order, TokenLot was a self-described "ICO superstore" where investors could purchase digital assets, including digital asset securities, during or after an ICO, including in private sales and pre-sales. The parties' brokerage activities included marketing and facilitating the sale of digital assets, accepting investors' orders and funds for payment, and enabling the disbursement of proceeds to the issuers. They also received compensation based on a percentage of the proceeds raised in the ICOs, subject to a guaranteed minimum commission. TokenLot also acted as a dealer by regularly purchasing and then reselling digital tokens for accounts in TokenLot's name that were controlled by its operators.

Conclusion

The Divisions encourage and support innovation and the application of beneficial technologies in our securities markets. However, the Divisions recommend that those employing new technologies consult with legal counsel concerning the application of the federal securities laws and contact Commission staff, as necessary, for assistance. For further information, and to contact Commission staff for assistance, please visit the Commission's new FinHub page.  


[1]           This statement represents the views of the Divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management, and Trading and Markets.  It is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”).  The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content.  

[2]          The Chairman of the Commission and the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance have also provided public statements on this subject.  See, e.g., Statement on Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (Dec. 11, 2017), available at https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/statement-clayton-2017-12-11; Digital Asset Transactions:  When Howey Met Gary (Plastic) (June 14, 2018), available at https://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speech-hinman-061418.

[3]          See CarrierEQ, Inc., Rel. No. 33-10575 (Nov. 16, 2018); Paragon Coin, Inc., Rel. No. 33-10574 (Nov. 16, 2018); Zachary Coburn, Rel. No. 34-84553 (Nov. 8, 2018) (settled order) (“Coburn Order”); Crypto Asset Management, LP and Timothy Enneking, Rel. No. 33-10544 (Sept. 11, 2018) (settled order) (“Crypto Asset Management Order”); and Tokenlot LLC, Lenny Kugel, and Eli L. Lewitt, Rel. No. 33-10543 (Sept. 11, 2018) (settled order) (“TokenLot Order”).

[4]           On July 27, 2017, the Commission issued a report, which concluded that particular digital assets were securities and explained that issuers of digital asset securities must register offers and sales of such securities unless a valid exemption applies. Report of Investigation Pursuant to Section 21(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: The DAO (July 25, 2017) (“DAO Report”), available at https://www.sec.gov/litigation/investreport/34-81207.pdf. On Dec. 11, 2017, the Commission issued a settled order against an issuer named Munchee, Inc., making clear that a token may be a security even if it has some purported utility.  Munchee, Inc., Securities Act Rel. No. 10445 (Dec. 11, 2017) (settled order) (“Munchee Order”).  Together, the DAO Report and the Munchee Order emphasize that digital assets offered and sold as investment contracts (regardless of the terminology or technology used in the transaction) are securities.  

[5]          Of course, if a security is being offered or sold, the anti-fraud protections of the U.S. securities laws apply.  The Commission has filed a number of enforcement actions involving digital assets, including those alleging fraudulent ICOs.  See https://www.sec.gov/spotlight/cybersecurity-enforcement-actions(listing digital asset-related enforcement actions).

[6]          As discussed herein, activities relating to the offer and sale of digital asset securities can also raise other legal and regulatory issues and considerations under the federal securities laws, including, for example, broker and dealer registration considerations. 

[7]          For a discussion of some questions that are relevant to registered investment companies that invest in certain digital assets, see Staff Letter to ICI and SIFMA AMG:  Engaging on Fund Innovation and Crypto-related Holdings, available at https://www.sec.gov/investment/fund-innovation-cryptocurrency-related-holdings.

[8]               In addition, pooled investment vehicles not only invest in securities but also are themselves issuers of securities. Although not addressed here, the requirements of the federal securities laws relating to an investment vehicle’s offer and sale of securities apply to the same extent when those securities use new technologies, such as blockchain, as when they do not.

[9]          See, e.g. Coburn Order and TokenLot Order.

[10]        See Divisions of Enforcement and Trading and Markets, Statement on Potentially Unlawful Online Platforms for Trading Digital Assets (March 7, 2018), available at https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/enforcement-tm-statement-potentially-unlawful-online-platforms-trading.

[11]          See id.

[12]          Coburn Order at 6-7.

[13]          As stated in the Coburn Order, the Commission’s findings were made pursuant to the respondent’s offer of settlement and are not binding on any other person or entity.

[14]          The relevant legal and regulatory requirements discussed in this statement apply to natural persons or entities.  However, for ease of reference, this statement generally refers only to entities.  

[15]          In its Regulation ATS adopting release, the Commission discussed what constitutes an exchange and provided examples illustrating various applications of Rule 3b-16.  See Regulation of Exchanges and Alternative Trading Systems, Exchange Act Rel. No. 40760 (Dec. 8, 1998), 63 FR 70844 (Dec. 22, 1998), available at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-12-22/pdf/98-33299.pdf.

[16]          See generally id. at 70844.      

[17]        See id. at 70852.

[18]          See id. at 70852.

[19]        There are other potential legal and regulatory issues and considerations under the federal securities laws for entities engaging in digital asset securities activities, including clearing agency and transfer agent registration considerations, among other things.  

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