Gibson Dunn Digital Assets Recent Updates – September 2023

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September 18, 2023

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We’re happy to offer you the following version of Gibson Dunn’s digital belongings common replace. This replace covers current authorized information concerning all varieties of digital belongings, together with cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, CBDCs, and NFTs, in addition to different blockchain and Web3 applied sciences. Thanks on your curiosity.

Enforcement Actions

United States

  1. Feds Cost Twister Money Builders Facilitated $1 Billion in Cash Laundering

On August 23, the Manhattan U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace introduced fees within the Southern District of New York towards two builders of Twister Money, Roman Storm and Roman Semenov. Twister Money is a crypto utility that obscures the supply of belongings transferred by way of it. Prosecutors allege that greater than $1 billion was laundered by way of Twister Money, together with tons of of tens of millions by North Korea’s Lazarus Group. Prices embody conspiracy to interact in cash laundering, conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions concentrating on North Korea, and conspiracy to function an unlicensed cash transmitting enterprise. Storm was arrested and launched after posting bond. Additionally on August 23, the Workplace of Overseas Asset Management (OFAC) sanctioned Semenov and eight Ethereum addresses allegedly managed by Semenov. Law360; Forbes; Indictment

  1. SEC Brings First Enforcement Actions Alleging NFTs Are Securities

On August 28, the U.S. Securities and Alternate Fee (SEC) issued an order concurrently submitting and settling fees towards Affect Principle, LLC, a Los Angeles-based media firm, associated to its gross sales of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Making use of the Howey take a look at, the SEC concluded that Affect Principle’s KeyNFTs had been funding contracts primarily as a result of Affect Principle’s advertising statements promised “super worth” and “large” appreciation. As a part of a settlement of the fees, the SEC ordered Affect Principle to disgorge over $5 million. SEC Commissioners Hester Pierce and Mark Uyeda issued a joint dissent from the order, arguing partly that the tokens weren’t funding contracts as a result of they weren’t shares of the corporate and didn’t generate any kind of dividend for purchasers. Order; Law360; CoinWire

Weeks later, on September 13, the SEC issued an order concurrently submitting and settling fees towards Stoner Cats 2 LLC (SC2), alleging an unregistered securities providing within the type of profile-picture NFTs. The order states that SC2 raised roughly $8 million from the sale of round 10,000 NFTs to finance the animated net collection Stoner Cats, starring Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. In an accompanying press launch, the SEC acknowledged that the providing led “buyers to count on income as a result of a profitable net collection may trigger the resale worth of the Stoner Cats NFTs within the secondary market to rise.” SC2 agreed to pay a $1 million superb and destroy all remaining NFTs in its possession. Commissioners Pierce and Uyeda dissented from this order as nicely, arguing that “the Stoner Cats NFTs should not that completely different from Star Wars collectibles bought within the Seventies” and that the order “carries implications for creators of every kind.” Order; Press Release; CoinDesk

  1. CFTC Prices DeFi Platforms Over Crypto Derivatives

On September 7, the Commodity Futures Buying and selling Fee (CFTC) issued orders concurrently submitting and settling fees towards three decentralized finance (DeFi) buying and selling platforms—Opyn, Inc., ZeroEx (0x), Inc., and Deridex, Inc.—for providing digital asset derivatives buying and selling. The orders require Opyn, ZeroEx, and Deridex to pay civil penalties of $250,000, $200,000, and $100,000, respectively, and “stop and desist from violating the Commodity Alternate Act (CEA) and CFTC laws.” The businesses had been all mentioned by the CFTC to have cooperated within the investigation, getting a diminished penalty consequently. “The DeFi area could also be novel, complicated, and evolving, however the Division of Enforcement will proceed to evolve with it and aggressively pursue those that function unregistered platforms that enable U.S. individuals to commerce digital asset derivatives,” mentioned Director of Enforcement Ian McGinley. Release; CoinDesk

  1. LBRY to Attraction Ruling That It Violated U.S. Securities Regulation

On September 7, crypto file-sharing protocol LBRY filed a discover of attraction of a New Hampshire federal courtroom’s choice that it didn’t register the sale of its native LBRY tokens (LBC) with the SEC. The courtroom’s remaining judgment ordered LBRY to pay a $111,614 civil penalty and barred it from collaborating in any unregistered crypto securities choices sooner or later. “LBRY is interesting the [court’s] choice as a result of it’s unjust and incorrect,” mentioned CEO Jeremy Kauffman. LBRY beforehand indicated that it will shut down following the July 11 ruling. Notice of Appeal; CoinDesk; CoinTelegraph

  1. Former FTX Govt Ryan Salame Pleads Responsible Forward of Bankman-Fried Trial

On September 7, former high FTX govt Ryan Salame pleaded responsible to 1 rely of conspiracy to function an unlicensed cash transmitting enterprise and one rely of conspiracy to make illegal political contributions and defraud the Federal Election Fee. Salame faces a most of 10 years in jail. He additionally has agreed to forfeit as much as $1.5 billion and make restitution of $5.6 million to FTX debtors. His sentencing is ready for March 6, 2024. This plea comes lower than one month earlier than Sam Bankman-Fried, co-founder of FTX, is ready to go to trial on October 2. Salame’s legal professional beforehand informed prosecutors he would invoke his Fifth Modification rights towards self-incrimination if known as as a witness towards Bankman-Fried at trial. CNN; Reuters; New York Times

  1. Former OpenSea Head of Product Receives Three-Month Jail Sentence for NFT Insider Buying and selling

On August 23, Nate Chastain, the previous Head of Product at OpenSea, the NFT buying and selling platform, was sentenced to a few months in jail for making round $50,000 by buying and selling NFTs that he knew could be featured on the OpenSea homepage. In Could, he was convicted by a jury of wire fraud and cash laundering in what is taken into account the primary insider-trading case involving digital belongings. Prosecutors had sought a two-year jail sentence, however U.S. District Choose Jesse Furman imposed a shorter sentence primarily based on Chastain’s restricted income. Choose Furman additionally sentenced Chastain to 200 hours of neighborhood service following his imprisonment, a $50,000 superb, and forfeiture of 15.98 ether. Reuters; Crypto News

Regulation and Laws

United States

  1. Treasury and IRS Suggest Tax-Reporting Guidelines for Crypto Trade

On August 25, the U.S. Division of the Treasury and the Inner Income Service (IRS) launched controversial proposed laws governing tax-reporting necessities for the crypto trade. The long-awaited laws would broaden the definition of “dealer” to embody digital asset buying and selling platforms, fee processors, pockets suppliers, and “some” DeFi platforms. Underneath the proposed laws, beginning on January 1, 2025, these entities could be topic to comparable tax reporting guidelines as brokers for securities and different monetary devices. The proposal exempts crypto miners from these necessities. The proposed laws are open for public remark till October 30. The proposed laws had been criticized by Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) of the Home Monetary Companies Committee as “an assault on the digital asset ecosystem.” Treasury; IRS; Axios; WSJ

  1. FASB Pronounces New Bitcoin Accounting Guidelines

On September 6, the Monetary Accounting Requirements Board (FASB) introduced forthcoming accounting guidelines underneath which firms that maintain or put money into cryptocurrencies will probably be required to report their holdings at truthful worth. This could enable firms to acknowledge good points and losses in cryptocurrencies instantly, as they might with different monetary belongings. This variation is broadly seen as an enchancment over the present apply of treating cryptocurrencies as indefinite-lived intangible belongings. The forthcoming guidelines embody different necessities as nicely, together with that firms should make a separate entry of their monetary statements for cryptocurrencies. The accounting guidelines will probably be obligatory for all firms—private and non-private—for fiscal years starting after December 15, 2024, together with interim durations inside these years. WSJ; Bloomberg


  1. UK Crypto Companies Can Apply for Additional Time to Adjust to New Restrictions on Crypto Promotions

On September 7, the UK’s Monetary Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced that UK crypto corporations might be given an additional three months to implement new restrictions on crypto promotions. The “[t]ough new guidelines designed to make the advertising of cryptoasset merchandise clearer and extra correct” are set to take impact on October 8, however could be delayed till January 2024 for in any other case compliant corporations to develop the proper technical setup. The FCA mentioned that it nonetheless intends to take enforcement motion towards abroad or unregulated corporations that proceed to unlawfully market to UK customers beginning October 8. Release; CoinDesk

  1. Journey Rule Regulation Goes into Power within the UK for Crypto Asset Companies

On September 1, a brand new rule requiring crypto corporations within the UK to adjust to the Monetary Motion Process Power’s Journey Rule went into impact. The UK Journey Rule requires UK-based Digital Asset Service Suppliers (VASPs) to gather, confirm, and share data on home and cross-jurisdictional transactions. In keeping with an FCA assertion, crypto companies domiciled within the UK are required to “adjust to the rule when sending or receiving a cryptoasset switch to a agency that’s within the UK, or any jurisdiction that has applied the Journey Rule.” If data is lacking or incomplete, companies should make a risk-based evaluation earlier than releasing the cryptoassets to the beneficiary. FCA Statement; The Block

Civil Litigation

United States

  1. D.C. Circuit Vacates SEC Denial of Grayscale Bitcoin ETF as Arbitrary and Capricious

On August 29, the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dominated that the SEC must take one other have a look at Grayscale Investments’ utility to checklist a bitcoin exchange-traded product (ETP), as a result of the SEC’s rejection of the submission was “arbitrary and capricious” and thus violated the Administrative Process Act. The three-judge panel’s unanimous ruling was authored by Choose Neomi Rao (a President Trump appointee) and was joined by Judges Edwards and Srinivasan (President Carter and Obama appointees, respectively). The courtroom concluded that the SEC “didn’t adequately clarify why it authorized the itemizing of two bitcoin futures ETPs however not Grayscale’s” proposed spot product, and rejected each rationale supplied by the SEC for treating bitcoin spot ETPs in another way than comparable bitcoin futures merchandise. “Within the absence of a coherent clarification,” the courtroom concluded, “this in contrast to regulatory therapy of like merchandise is illegal.” The courtroom’s ruling requires the SEC to rethink Grayscale’s utility, nevertheless it doesn’t require the SEC to approve the applying. Opinion; Law360; Barron’s

  1. Federal Court docket Dismisses Uniswap Class Motion

On August 30, U.S. District Court docket Choose Katherine Polk Failla dismissed a category motion swimsuit introduced towards Uniswap and its builders and buyers by customers claiming that they misplaced cash on rip-off tokens bought on the Uniswap platform. In dismissing the claims, Choose Failla reasoned partly that “the identities of the Rip-off Token issuers are mainly unknown and unknowable” attributable to Ethereum’s “decentralized nature,” and that the plaintiffs’ claims due to this fact had been akin to “trying to carry an utility like Venmo or Zelle answerable for a drug deal that used the platform to facilitate a fund switch.” Choose Failla additionally rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that Uniswap was answerable for the losses underneath the Securities Alternate Act of 1934, refusing to “stretch the federal securities legal guidelines to cowl the conduct alleged.” In rejecting the securities-law claims, Choose Failla acknowledged in passing that ether and bitcoin are “crypto commodities,” doubtlessly suggesting that she believes these belongings should not topic to the securities legal guidelines in any respect. Choose Failla is also presiding over the SEC’s enforcement motion towards Coinbase. Opinion; Fortune; Bitcoinist

  1. New York Federal Court docket Holds that Digital Fund Switch Act Does Not Apply to Sure Crypto Transactions

On August 11, Choose Lewis J. Liman dismissed a declare asserting that the Digital Fund Switch Act (EFTA) applies to cryptocurrency transactions. In Yuille v. Uphold HQ, Inc., No. 1:22-cv-07453 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 11, 2023 ), a Michigan retiree sued Uphold HQ, a crypto buying and selling platform and pockets supplier, after a hacker drained $5 million from his account. The plaintiff argued partly that Uphold HQ failed to fulfill the necessities of the EFTA, which imposes obligations on monetary establishments to expeditiously examine and proper errors associated to digital fund transfers. Earlier this yr, a special choose in separate swimsuit towards Uphold held that the time period “digital funds switch” within the EFTA was capacious sufficient to incorporate crypto transactions. Rider v. Uphold HQ Inc., 2023 WL 2163208 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2023) (Cote, J.). As an alternative of resolving that subject, Choose Liman held that the plaintiff’s transactions fell exterior the EFTA as a result of his crypto pockets was not an “account,” which is outlined underneath the Act to incorporate solely accounts “established primarily for private, household, or family functions.” Choose Liman held that the plaintiff’s crypto pockets account was as an alternative established primarily for profit-making functions. Opinion; Law360

  1. Gemini Earn Prospects May Recuperate All Funds in New Proposed Renumeration Scheme

On September 13, bankrupt crypto lender Genesis and its guardian firm Digital Foreign money Group (DCG) filed a brand new proposed remuneration plan. Genesis and DCG acknowledged that, underneath the proposal, over 230,000 collectors who used Gemini’s Earn program “are estimated to recuperate roughly 95-110% of their claims.” Gemini Earn was an funding program applied by crypto change Gemini with financing from Genesis. Gemini Earn clients had been affected when Genesis was pressured to freeze withdrawals and its lending arm—Genesis World Holdco LLC—filed for chapter in January 2023. DCG hopes to file an amended model of the proposed plan by October 6, and solicit votes by December 5. On September 15, Gemini issued a press release criticizing the proposed plan as “deceptive at finest and misleading at worst.” Gemini acknowledged that “[r]eceiving a fractional share of curiosity and principal funds over seven years from an extremely dangerous counterparty . . . shouldn’t be even remotely equal to receiving the precise money and digital belongings owed as we speak by Genesis to the Gemini Lenders.” Proposed Agreement; CoinTelegraph; CoinDesk; Gemini Filing

Speaker’s Nook

United States

  1. Former SEC Chair Says Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval Is ‘Inevitable’

On September 1, former SEC chair Jay Clayton appeared on CNBC Tv to debate the SEC’s deferral of bitcoin ETP purposes: “It’s clear that bitcoin shouldn’t be a safety. It’s clear that bitcoin is one thing that retail buyers need entry to, institutional buyers need entry to, and, importantly, a few of our most trusted suppliers who’re fiduciaries or have duties of finest curiosity wish to present this product to the retail public. So I feel [spot bitcoin ETP] approval is inevitable,” Clayton informed CNBC. Clayton’s feedback observe a federal courtroom’s ruling in Grayscale v. SEC (mentioned above) that there was no justification for the SEC to permit bitcoin futures-based ETPs however deny spot bitcoin ETPs. CNBC; The Block; Grayscale Opinion

  1. SEC Chair Gary Gensler Testifies Earlier than Senate Banking Committee

On September 12, SEC Chair Gary Gensler testified earlier than the Senate Banking Committee in an SEC oversight listening to. In his ready testimony, Gensler maintained his stance that the majority cryptocurrencies qualify as securities that must be regulated by the SEC: “As I’ve beforehand mentioned, with out prejudging anyone token, the overwhelming majority of crypto tokens doubtless meet the funding contract take a look at.” Gensler additionally reiterated his sturdy criticism of the crypto trade: “I’ve by no means seen a discipline that’s so rife with misconduct,” mentioned Gensler. “It’s daunting.” Essentially the most substantive dialogue on digital belongings got here throughout questioning from Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), who expressed considerations over Gensler issuing an SEC workers bulletin that will require firms to report buyer crypto belongings on their steadiness sheets. Additionally through the listening to, Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was extremely crucial of the crypto trade. “The issues we noticed at FTX are in every single place in crypto—the failure to offer actual disclosure, the conflicts of curiosity, the dangerous bets with buyer cash that was imagined to be secure,” mentioned Brown. Brown additionally praised the SEC’s method to regulating crypto: “I’m glad the SEC is utilizing its instruments to crack down on abuse and implement the regulation.”

Gensler is scheduled to testify subsequent earlier than the Home Monetary Companies Committee on September 27. These scheduled appearances observe mounting criticism from lawmakers over the SEC’s method to regulating crypto, which they argue prioritizes enforcement over offering clear steerage. Sept. 12 Prepared Testimony; Sept. 12 Hearing; CryptoSlate; CryptoNews


  1. Chinese language Central Financial institution Official Says China’s Digital Yuan Should Be Accessible in All Retail Eventualities

Throughout a commerce discussion board in Beijing on September 3, Changchun Mu, the top of the digital forex analysis institute on the Individuals’s Financial institution of China, mentioned that an important step for the event of China’s digital yuan “is to make use of digital yuan because the fee device for all retail situations.” Though the digital yuan is being examined in pilot areas throughout China, it stays removed from attaining widespread adoption. “Within the quick time period, we will begin by unifying QR code requirements on a technical degree to attain barcode interoperability,” Mu added. Mu’s feedback observe the Chinese language central financial institution’s pledge final yr to push for common QR fee codes. Using QR code fee techniques, dominated by WeChat Pay and Alipay, is already widespread in China. The Block; CoinTelegraph

Different Notable Information

  1. SEC Defers Selections on All Bitcoin ETFs

On August 31, the SEC delayed till October its choices on all pending purposes for a spot bitcoin exchange-traded product, which have been filed by BlackRock, Grayscale Investments, and others. The SEC’s choices come days after Grayscale received a key victory over the SEC (mentioned above), which many have considered as clearing a path for the long-awaited product. Bloomberg; CoinDesk; PiOnline

  1. Visa to Use Solana and USDC Stablecoin to Enhance Cross-Border Funds

On September 5, Visa introduced that it has expanded its stablecoin settlement capabilities with Circle’s USDC stablecoin to the Solana (SOL) blockchain. In keeping with its assertion, Visa is without doubt one of the first main monetary establishments to make use of the Solana community at scale for settlements. “By leveraging stablecoins like USDC and world blockchain networks like Solana and Ethereum, we’re serving to to enhance the velocity of cross-border settlement and offering a contemporary possibility for our purchasers to simply ship or obtain funds from Visa’s treasury,” mentioned Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, in a press release. CoinDesk; The Block

  1. Vitalik Buterin Co-Authors Paper on Regulation-Pleasant Twister Money Different

On September 9, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin printed a analysis paper that he co-authored with Ethereum core developer Ameen Soleimani, researcher Jacob Illum from blockchain analytics agency Chainalysis, and lecturers Matthias Nadler and Fabian Schar. The paper proposes a privateness protocol known as Privateness Swimming pools. The core concept of the proposal is to permit customers to publish a zero-knowledge proof, demonstrating that their funds don’t originate from illegal sources, with out publicly revealing their total transaction graph. The authors argue that this proposal, if applied, may enable monetary privateness and regulation to co-exist. SSRN; The Block

  1. FTX, BlockFi, and Genesis Claimant Knowledge Breached in Cyberattack

On August 25, Kroll LLC, introduced that cybercriminals uncovered knowledge belonging to claimants within the FTX, BlockFi, and Genesis World Holdco bankruptcies following a complicated cyberattack directed towards Kroll staff. Kroll acknowledged {that a} cybercriminal focused a cellphone account belonging to considered one of its staff “in a extremely subtle ‘SIM swapping’ assault.” Law360; CoinDesk

  1. Ant Group Launches Abroad Blockchain Model ZAN

On September 8, Ant Group—the proprietor of the world’s largest cellular fee platform, Alipay—launched ZAN, a brand new blockchain service aimed toward Hong Kong and abroad markets. In keeping with the official press launch, ZAN “contains of a full suite of blockchain utility improvement services and products for each institutional and particular person Web3 builders.” ZAN may also present “a collection of technical merchandise, together with digital Know-Your-Buyer (eKYC), Anti-Cash Laundering (AML) and Know-Your-Transactions (KYT), to assist Web3 companies construct up their capabilities in buyer identification authentication, safety safety and danger administration.” Press Release; CoinTelegraph; The Block

The next Gibson Dunn legal professionals ready this consumer alert:  Ashlie Beringer, Stephanie Brooker, Jason Cabral, M. Kendall Day, Jeffrey Steiner, Sara Weed, Ella Capone, Grace Chong, Chris Jones, Jay Minga, Nick Harper, Apratim Vidyarthi, Alexis Levine, Zachary Montgomery, and Tin Le.

Gibson Dunn’s legal professionals can be found to help in addressing any questions you could have concerning the problems mentioned on this replace. Please contact the Gibson Dunn lawyer with whom you normally work, any member of the agency’s FinTech and Digital Assets apply group, or the next:

FinTech and Digital Belongings Group:

Ashlie Beringer, Palo Alto (650.849.5327,

Michael D. Bopp, Washington, D.C. (202.955.8256,

Stephanie L. Brooker, Washington, D.C. (202.887.3502,

Jason J. Cabral, New York (212.351.6267,

Ella Alves Capone, Washington, D.C. (202.887.3511,

M. Kendall Day, Washington, D.C. (202.955.8220,

Michael J. Desmond, Los Angeles/Washington, D.C. (213.229.7531,

Sébastien Evrard, Hong Kong (+852 2214 3798,

William R. Hallatt, Hong Kong (+852 2214 3836,

Martin A. Hewett, Washington, D.C. (202.955.8207,

Michelle M. Kirschner, London (+44 (0)20 7071.4212,

Stewart McDowell, San Francisco (415.393.8322,

Mark Okay. Schonfeld, New York (212.351.2433,

Orin Snyder, New York (212.351.2400,

Jeffrey L. Steiner, Washington, D.C. (202.887.3632,

Eric D. Vandevelde, Los Angeles (213.229.7186,

Benjamin Wagner, Palo Alto (650.849.5395,

Sara Okay. Weed, Washington, D.C. (202.955.8507,

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Lawyer Promoting: These supplies had been ready for normal informational functions solely primarily based on data obtainable on the time of publication and should not supposed as, don’t represent, and shouldn’t be relied upon as, authorized recommendation or a authorized opinion on any particular info or circumstances. Gibson Dunn (and its associates, attorneys, and staff) shall not have any legal responsibility in reference to any use of those supplies.  The sharing of those supplies doesn’t set up an attorney-client relationship with the recipient and shouldn’t be relied upon instead for recommendation from certified counsel.  Please notice that info and circumstances might range, and prior outcomes don’t assure an analogous end result.

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