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Moresh Kokane, CEO of Konkrete – Interview Series

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Moresh Kokane, CEO of Konkrete - Interview Series

Moresh Kokane is the Founder of Konkrete, he has worked in the finance and tech sector for the last decade and previously successfully launched two start-ups.

In 2014 you launched Estate Baron, one of the first real estate development crowdfunding companies in Australia. What inspired you to combine real estate with crowdfunding?

I had worked in the US for about 9 years before moving to Australia. I had already seen the rise of Realty Mogul and Fundrise in the US. Australians are far more in love with real estate than the US with each Australian being 3 times more likely to be invested in real estate than an American.

Real estate being a lumpy asset is an ideal fit for crowdfunding which allows people with smaller amounts to participate. Doing real estate equity crowdfunding in Australia was really a no brainer.

 

When it comes to Estate Baron, are profits derived from the developer or the investor? Could you share some details on the profit model?

We provide 3 key services.

  1. Given that it is a securities offering, we help structure the offer documents. What we have been able to achieve is a commoditization of the process. Real estate projects fundamentally share the same lifecycle. Acquire land, decide what to build on it (plans), construct and sell (or hold for long term). Doing a full retail securities offering can be quite tedious but given the repetitive nature of the business model, we were able to come up with templates which allowed us to drive the cost of compliance down significantly.
  2. We also turned our tech into a SAAS platform, whereby each developer can use their own front-end skin on top of our backend. This allows them to promote their own offers under their own brand to their clients. On Estate Baron itself we can list all the offers as a quasi-aggregator.
  3. And we also offer investor promotions for select offers.

There is a flat fee for the drafts, a recurring charge for the tech and a % of funds raised capital raising fee.

 

It seems that Konkrete was a natural evolution of Estate Baron as it offers a distributed share registry designed for the real estate sector. For readers who are unfamiliar with this, could you explain what a distributed share registry is, and the benefits it provides investors and developers?

Konkrete is fundamentally Estate Baron v2.0

On Estate Baron we had a full investor portal where we had online application processing, project information pages, share registry, investor updates etc.

We are keeping 100% of the retail financial licensing and compliance from Estate Baron, bulk of the tech and swapping out the backend centralized share registry with a distributed one.

Each offer is typically setup as a Public unlisted company and legally maintains its own registry. A registry as you know is a record of all the shareholders, how much they own, etc. Typically, these are maintained centrally.

Using a blockchain enabled registry has a few significant advantages. The first is transparency, it also brings a wider reach of investors on the global crypto markets and it makes liquidity simpler.

But what we are really excited about is smart securities. By putting the investment operations on the blockchain we can give investors real time insights on how the money is being spent. Instead of sending money to a bank account, we can receive stable coins in a smart contract wallet. And instead of bank loan drawdowns we can trigger funds release automatically based on certain events triggered by Oracles.

What it means for the project is real time, automatic disclosure which reduces cost of ongoing compliance. And by introducing transparency and immutability to the operations we can generate a lot of trust in the ecosystem. Coupled with a wider reach and liquidity this drives down the cost of capital for the venture.

Note that while we are focused on real estate, the underlying legal structures and technology can be used for any other ventures which are unrelated to real estate as well.

 

One of the stated benefits of Konkrete, is reducing the housing affordability crisis, could you walk us through how this works?

Konkrete being an evolution of Estate Baron aims to do something about housing affordability. We intend to make home ownership affordable through 2 main approaches.

The first is fractional ownership of the house you live in. Instead of buying the entire house and loading up on debt, if we can allow people to live long term in a house that they co-own alongside other investors that reduces the upfront outlay a buyer must make. It also gives investors the opportunity to buy a piece of real estate by not having to stump the entire amount.

Second is the supply side. House sticker prices include a hefty development profit. If we can get people to do co-development for the houses they wish to live then the development profit can be passed back to them. This model is already quite popular in Berlin, Germany and these syndicates, collectives are springing up in Melbourne as well.

By bringing together more people online and allowing them to achieve consensus in a decentralized fashion, we can replace the developer.

Finally, we are working on a real estate backed stable coin as our long term moonshot. That is something we always keep one eye on.

 

What are some of the different solutions and products that Konkrete will be offering?

We continue to offer fundraising solutions for real estate projects. The same model can be applied for non-real estate fundraising as well (Public company and prospectus). We have already done offers in Australia, New Zealand (both full retail) and US (Reg D accredited).

We are also going beyond security tokenization and looking at the Asset tokenization model. One of the limiting factors of securities tokenization is the jurisdictional limitations one has. We must qualify investors etc, restrict distribution. Also, while public companies and registered managed funds in Australia are allowed to maintain their own registries, exchange listed funds have to be recorded on the exchanges central registries.

The SEC is adamantly against non-custodial security structures. So, there are limitations to where an STO can take us.

However, the real opportunity lies in Assets which are recorded in a peer to peer fashion. Hence the repositioning to an Asset tokenization platform.

We have already launched an invoice factoring market place based on the Asset tokenization premise called factorium.co that is built on the Konkrete technology platform.

(Use the invite code: factorium for early access to the closed beta.)

 

Konkrete has a utility token, The Konkrete Token (KKT) – an ERC-20-based token – which powers the Konkrete platform. Could you tell us more about the KKT token and how its intended to be used?

KKT is an platform level token. We are still nutting out a few things in it in terms of whether we should contemplate going down the path of our own chain. In the short run, each application built on the Konkrete tech is likely to have its own token.

For instance Factorium has Factor tokens, which we use to incentivize users to submit invoices for sale on the platform. The tokens are also used to incentivize verification of these invoices by the buyers. Buyers are also rewarded for repaying on time.

The investors use Factor tokens to pay for transaction fees and use of the platform.

Here is a simple flowchart of the process.

 

You are currently selling shares in the foundation company (Konkrete Distributed Registries Ltd ACN 617 252 909) When is the offer closing and what’s the expected raise amount?

We are currently live on Bank to the Future platform. We are open for another couple of months and are only raising a small amount $500,000

We are currently generating revenue and have much of the product ready.

 

What are the financial benefits that will be offered to investors? Also, will these shares eventually be tokenized?

Absolutely the shares will be tokenized. Shareholders are becoming part owners of the business and will share in the capital gain and will receive regular dividends which we intend to programatically distribute via smart contracts. All our revenues will be fed into smart contracts and we intend to turn our own operations into a transparent dAPP.

 

What will these raised funds be used for?

These funds will be used for further refinement of the tech and driving user adoption.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Konkrete?

Unlike a number of other portals, we are an existing profitable business that has been around for a few years. We have been in the crowdfunding space for ages and have a strong understanding of the regulatory frameworks. We know what works in this space and what does not. In addition, we also have bulk of the tech ready and also a strong investor community already using us. We do the tech but also the issuance of the securities inhouse which puts us in a unique position. We have a solid team in terms of Sean my cofounder who is taking charge of the operations.I am quite happy about our positioning as an Asset tokenization portal and am excited about the launch of our first product built on Konkrete which is Factorium.

Readers can visit the Konkrete Listing or Konkrete website for more information.

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Antoine Tardif is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 blockchain projects. He is also the founder of Bitcoinlightning.com a news website focusing on the lightning network, and a founding partner of Securities.io

Interviews

Masha and Xenia Vyazemskaya, Founders of ValueTokenized – Interview Series

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Masha and Xenia Vyazemskaya, Founders of ValueTokenized - Interview Series

Masha and Xenia Vyazemskaya are known as the Crypto Twins. They host the popular podcast ValueTokenized which provides free educational content to help businesses tokenize the world.

How did you first discover blockchain and cryptocurrencies?

By lucky chance! We have always been in communications, and a good friend once asked for our assistance and PR advice for a blockchain project back in 2017. Fast forward several months, blockchain has entirely captured our attention, and we’ve been helping blockchain projects with content marketing and PR ever since, helping the tech guys tell their stories and educate audiences.

 

Which was the first token that you purchased and what motivated you to purchase this token?

I believe it was XRP. Xenia liked the idea and completely ignored the “buy low, sell high” principle, which turned out to be a pretty bad investment. The sum was insignificant, though.

Bitcoin was our second crypto investment. And it quickly became more. It took us over a year to understand the real beauty of bitcoin and the values behind it. We’re big believers in bitcoin vs. fiat currencies, and we’re doing our best to facilitate the adoption.

 

What inspired you to get involved in the space?

It is fascinating to watch the new industry emerge and mature. For us, it started with curiosity and excitement for the brand new space, which then turned into a clear understanding of the demand for unbiased expert content and the value we can bring in this regard. The most inspiring thing for us now is when experts contact us to arrange an interview or a panel discussion, and receive feedback from the audience.

 

You’ve done multiple YouTube videos, including discussing some recent industry trends such as IEOs replacing ICOs. How do you personally feel about IEOs?

Our podcast ValueTokenized is dedicated mostly to asset tokenization and practical applications for blockchain technology in capital markets. When the IEO trend was growing half a year ago, however, we couldn’t help but cover it.

Our opinion on IEOs is pretty much aligned with that of our speakers – including an early investor in Bitcoin, Uber and Airbnb Jeffrey Wernick. IEOs merely seems to be an attempt to prolong the fading life of ICOs – which per se had nothing bad to it as a concept, but the implementation left a lot to be desired.

In any case, we strongly believe that the future for blockchain and cryptocurrencies lies within:

1) asset-backed tokens and;

2) Bitcoin.

 

You’ve also conducted multiple interviews which feature different jurisdictions for launching an STO. These jurisdictions include Singapore, the United States, Israel and Liechtenstein. Based on these interviews and your knowledge of the space, which jurisdiction would you personally favor to launch an STO and why?

The choice of jurisdiction for conducting an STO depends on many things: whether you want to target retail (non-accredited) investors, in what regions do you want to sell your securities, and so on.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein are probably our favorites in Europe due to clear rules and industry specific regulation that doesn’t require any legal workarounds. The United States, however, attract a lot of attention as a jurisdiction because there are many tech-advanced investors who currently might be more open to purchase new financial instruments in the form of tokens. An important thing to remember: if you want to do an STO and sell your tokens in Europe and in the US, you must be compliant with both.

 

You’ve also discussed tokenizing various assets. What are some of these asset classes and which asset class do you personally believe has the most potential to scale?

Real estate offers the biggest use case with clear benefits for tokenization. In October, we have seen multiple cases including Tokyo-based Lead Real Estate funding development of condominiums and hotels ahead of the 2020 Japan Olympics through issuing security tokens; a consortium of Gulf families’ plans to tokenize US$ 1 billion worth of property assets and other exciting projects.

There are several reasons: fractional ownership offered by tokenization is a natural fit for real estate. Moreover, programmability of the tokens allows a structure to represent various economic interests – ownership rights, different income rights. On top of that, real estate is something investors understand, it’s a fixed income asset class and a rather low-risk investment.

From the perspective of the issuer, tokenization can offer a more cost-effective way to fundraise with a significant reduction in cost and friction for further management of securities.

We also believe venture funds to be a promising field for tokenization. Today, it enables easier and more cost-effective management of funds, easy ownership transfer, and so on. Potentially, tokenization can provide for democratization of VC market, opening it to millions of investors with small checks. For the latter, however, the technology is not enough – it requires corresponding amendments in the regulation. Whether we will see it or not soon remains debatable. Nevertheless, the existing benefits are already exciting.

 

What are some of the companies in the space that personally excite you?

Tokeny, Rivver, Securitize

 

Where do you see the industry being in 5 years?

We share the vision that capital markets on blockchain is the question of when, not if. In 5 years, we most likely won’t be talking about blockchain as a separate industry, as it will be the essential part of global financial markets.

Whether tokenization will unlock the liquidity for previously illiquid assets, democratize access to venture capital and fulfill other promises that are widely discussed today, remains to be seen.

In any case, communication and education is what is need for the industry to grow and mature. The more we focus on this today, the more outstanding results we will see in 5 years.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

Just one thing: feel free to reach to us anytime with podcast and collaboration ideas.

Let’s do something cool together 🙂

masha@value.to

xenia@value.to

To watch some of their podcasts visit ValueTokenized

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Interviews

Aaron Kaplan, CEO of Prometheum – Interview Series

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Aaron Kaplan, CEO of Prometheum - Interview Series

Prior to Prometheum you were the Founder of EquityArcade, a platform that enabled consumers to buy shares in video game startups. Can you let us know how your experience at EquityArcade transitioned over to Prometheum?

EquityArcade was a Reg CF equity crowdfunding platform that allowed consumers (investors) to invest in the future revenue generated from indie game funded on the platform. Reg CF is part of the JOBS Act, which also contains the Reg A+ crowdfunding rules. Prometheum uses Reg A+ as a means to allow the general public to invest in blockchain securities. All JOBS Act regulations relate to online equity crowdfunding. As a result, we have been able to leverage many of the experiences and lessons from EquityArcade in building Prometheum’s Reg A+ offering platform. 

 

Prometheum enables companies to raise capital by offering their own Smart Security Tokens (SSTs). Can you share with us how SSTs differentiate themselves from other industry standards such as STOs (Security Token Offerings) or DSOs (Digital Security Offerings)?

SSTs, STOs and DSOs are all different protocols that are attempting to solve the same problem. Until there’s complete regulatory clarity around certain critical components – including custody –  of the blockchain securities ecosystem, it’s not possible to conclude which protocol provides the best foundation.

 

What’s the process for a company to launch an SST?

An issuer looking to issue a SST will submit an application for an offering to Prometheum. At that point, the issuer will submit all relevant documents that will allow Prometheum to conduct the requisite due diligence in order to determine whether the company is qualified to issue an SST. Upon passing the due diligence process, the issuer will complete the Reg A+ offering circular and submit that document to the SEC for qualification. Once qualified by the SEC, the offering will be listed on Prometheum’s offering platform and begin their capital formation activities. When the stated amount of capital is raised, there will be a closing and distribution of the SST into the investors’ Prometheum brokerage account. Upon distribution of an SST, Prometheum’s issuance platform coordinates the multi-signature, multi-stage process that is used to place investors’ SSTs in either their Master or Personal Wallet. Once the distribution occurs, Prometheum will list the SST on our retail based (i.e. open to all investors) Alternative Trading System (ATS), and secondary market trading will begin in the issuer’s SST. 

 

What type of fees should companies expect from launching an SST and hosting it on your platform?

Our goal is to allow companies to raise up to $50m in the most efficient way possible:  faster, less expensive, and easier than any other legal capital raising method. In terms of direct fees, we plan on charging issuers a small percentage of the total amount they raise (1-3% dependent on the total raised).  Once a token has been distributed and is trading on the ATS, companies are charged a quarterly membership fee of $2,500 for maintaining their order book.

Indirect fees not charged by Prometheum can vary and are related to legal and prep for the creation of the Reg A documents, accounting, auditing, marketing, and other possible professional services.  

    

SST will be Reg A+ issued. For investors who are not familiar with this legislation and what does it mean? Could you explain the benefits?

Regulation A+ allows issuers to raise up to $50 million from the general public annually, and such securities, when issued, are freely tradeable on a secondary market. Reg A+ is really the perfect regulation for issuing blockchain securities as it meets the spirit that was initially conceived by the crypto community- it allows the general public to invest, and the asset is freely tradeable upon distribution but in a regulated manner (unlike many historical token investments). 

 

Tokens that are created on your platform will then be tradeable on a custom ATS (Alternative Trading System). Could you elaborate on how your ATS will operate?

On the surface, the ATS operates just like a traditional equities electronic market.  Every token has as order book representing supply and demand for that token – bids (what buyers are willing to pay, and the number of tokens they want) and asks (offers to sell, or what sellers are willing to sell for, and the number of tokens they want to sell). This order book is managed by the matching engine which uses an algorithm to arrange the bids and asks into a price, upon the price quote the engine then utilizes time priority, and ultimately “matches” buyers and sellers when they meet at the same price.  There is an online trading platform, similar to Etrade or Schwabb, which allows traders and investors to see the order book, look at charts, enter orders and see their account status and previous transactions. Through the use of omnibus accounts, other broker-dealers will be able to offer their customers access to SSTs. Our ATS intends to operate 2 sessions everyday, both 11 ½ hours long with two 30 minute breaks for settlement. When there is an executed trade, meaning an order between a buyer and seller is matched, the trade is written to the blockchain, as well as recorded to a database to ensure compliance with traditional record keeping.  

 

Are SST tokens launched on your platform tradeable on regular security token trading exchanges such as OpenFinance and tZERO?

SSTs are compatible with Prometheum’s ATS and work as both securities and utility tokens in the Prometheum ecosystem. It may be possible for SST issuers to create a bridge to other exchanges or blockchains by building smart contracts on the Prometheum Utility Blockchain. As the equivalent of a national market system for digital assets develops it will likely be necessary for digital assets to have the ability to trade across security token exchanges and alternative trading systems. 

 

What are Ember (MBR) tokens and what role do they play in this project?

The Ember SST fuels all SST transactions and allows holders to provide services at the protocol and application layers. Prometheum’s Ember token has both profit-making utility (work/access) and proprietary payment currency features. Ember provides the fuel for the Prometheum blockchain Network and demonstrates the versatility and value provided by a modern approach to using securities to transfer value in a decentralized, blockchain based environment. Ember is the first SST issued on the Prometheum Blockchain and sets the legal and technical precedent for further SSTs.

 

It seems like you are building everything from scratch, why not use an existing blockchain?

The Prometheum blockchain is required in order to ensure that regulatory requirements are met while also providing a viable method for the use of blockchain securities as utility tokens. This includes direct interaction with distributed applications as well as processes for moving blockchain securities in and out of brokerage accounts when a user wishes to trade them on the Prometheum ATS.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about Prometheum?

Prometheum is creating the market infrastructure needed for digital assets to go mainstream. When the SEC essentially declared that tokens were securities in the 2017 DAO report, such infrastructure didn’t exist, which meant that there were no compliant facilities for the issuance, trading, clearing, settlement and custody of token securities. Prometheum sought to fill that void and is creating the infrastructure that will allow the general public to invest and trade in digital assets, while also providing mechanisms for clearance, settlement and custody after trades are made. The Prometheum Network is meant to allow the general public to participate, which is required in order for digital assets to go from a new asset class to a mainstream asset class. 

To learn more visit Prometheum.

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Interviews

Philip Moustakis, Counsel at Seward & Kissel LLP – Interview Series

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Philip Moustakis, Counsel at Seward & Kissel LLP - Interview Series

Philip advises companies and individuals on SEC enforcement matters, including criminal enforcement investigations, internal investigations, and cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Philip has extensive experience with securities enforcement matters. For more than a decade prior to entering private practice, he served as senior counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, investigating and prosecuting complex matters involving violations of the federal securities law.

Before being employed with Seward & Kissel LLP you were a member of the SEC’s Cyber Unit which focused on cryptocurrencies and ICOs. How were you initially recruited for this Cyber Unit?

I started in the SEC’s Enforcement Division in 2008 and began working on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related matters about five years prior to the creation of the SEC Cyber Unit. I brought the SEC’s first Bitcoin-related enforcement action against the operator of Bitcoin Savings & Trust and led other cryptocurrency-related matters as well. I briefed Chair Mary Jo White and the other Commissioners, and frequently conducted training for the FBI, FINRA, and others, on Bitcoin and blockchain technology. I also presented in academic settings on my work.  So, when the Cyber Unit was formed in 2017, with a mandate that included cryptocurrencies and ICOs, I was a natural fit.

 

How did the action against ‘Bitcoin Savings and Trust’ influence future enforcement actions by the SEC?

Bitcoin Savings and Trust, which raised a staggering 700,000 Bitcoins from investors, was charged as a plain vanilla Ponzi scheme, with the exception that all investments were solicited, and purported returns paid, in bitcoins. But it was notable for several reasons. First, it established that the investment of Bitcoins could satisfy the “investment of money” prong of the test for an investment contract, otherwise known as the Howey test. Second, it demonstrated that the SEC could conduct a flow-of-funds analysis on the Bitcoin blockchain. While we could not demonstrate where every Bitcoin came from or went, we could show that more Bitcoins were going out to investors than came into Bitcoin Savings and Trust from any source other than investors, thereby proving the Ponzi. Third, we did not take the position that Bitcoin itself was a security. And finally, the case was significant for the disgorgement theory advanced by the SEC, namely, that the disgorgement ordered by the court should reflect the dramatic increase in the value of Bitcoins from the time the investors handed their Bitcoins over to the defendant, to the date of the judgment. The Bitcoins the defendant raised from investors were worth about $4.5 million at the time, but the final judgment against the defendant was for more than $40 million in disgorgement and penalties.

 

You were a founding member of the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group. What is the purpose of this group, and how does it impact both investors and STOs?

With the wider adoption of blockchain technology, the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group was simply an effort to coordinate both with other regulators and within the SEC. It was important to ensure the various divisions and offices of the SEC were not working at cross-purposes with one another. The SEC has since built on the work of the group with the creation of its Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub), which engages in outreach to both investors and issuers.

 

You were responsible for investigations into multiple initial coin offerings (ICOs) for possible violations of securities laws. What’s the most blatant violation of securities law that you have witnessed?

Without hesitation, it’s the ICO craze of 2017 and 2018. In February 2018, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, testifying before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, famously said, “I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security.” A few months later, in a televised interview, Commissioner Robert Jackson said, “if you want to know what our markets would look like with no securities regulation, the answer is the ICO market.” On the whole, I agree with those sentiments. Most ICOs, during that period, were traditional capital raises, with the basic difference being that, in an ICO, one could purchase shares in a company’s primary asset rather than shares in the company itself. It’s not to say that most ICOs were frauds or not well-intentioned. However, there wasn’t much ambiguity about the fact that they were unregistered securities offerings.

 

It’s common practice for ICOs to block investments from USA investors. Nonetheless, those same blocked investors can then later purchase these tokens on cryptocurrency exchanges. Does this strategy of initially blocking USA investors keep ICOs safe from SEC enforcement action?

The short answer is no. If an issuer accesses the U.S. capital markets, if it offers or sells securities in the U.S., directly or indirectly, the SEC will have jurisdiction. The SEC has made it clear that it is not sufficient to take cosmetic or half measures to prevent one’s security token offering (STO) from reaching U.S. investors.

 

Do you believe that the SEC will become more proactive in pursuing legal action and shutting down unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges?

Yes. Bringing enforcement actions against exchanges that decline to come into compliance for whatever reasons, despite the SEC’s messaging in the space, makes sense for the Enforcement Division. Not only to give teeth to prior statements by the Chairman, other commissioners, and certain members of senior management, but also because an enforcement action against an exchange, on the whole, should have a greater programmatic impact from a regulatory perspective than an action against a single issuer.

 

Do you have any comments regarding the SEC’s most recent actions against Telegram Group Inc and its unregistered securities offering?

In my view, there are a couple of important takeaways. First, related to your earlier question, the Telegram case demonstrates the SEC will pursue overseas issuers of digital assets or cryptocurrencies who offer or sell those assets into the U.S., or otherwise access the U.S. capital markets. Additionally, I think this could be an interesting test case for the utility token argument. Telegram has taken the position that, while the token purchase agreement for the Gram was a security, the token itself is not. In its complaint against Telegram, the SEC alleged there was no daylight between the Gram offering and the Gram token. Rather, the SEC alleged, the offering was a traditional capital raise because, among other things: the company used funds raised for operations and to build out its ecosystem; there were no goods or services for which one might use the Gram; and Gram purchasers had and – absent the emergency action – would continue to have a reasonable expectation of sharing in the company’s profits should it succeed in building out the functionalities it promised. It will be interesting to see how the facts and arguments develop on this issue as the litigation progresses.

 

Could you share with us details regarding your current role with Seward & Kissel LLP?

I joined Seward & Kissel in February 2019 and work closely with several of the firm’s practice areas in both New York and D.C., including the Government Enforcement and Internal Investigations, Investment Management, and Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Groups. I spent the majority of my career at the SEC in the Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, and Seward & Kissel has one of the largest and well-known Investment Management practices in the U.S., working with managers across all asset classes, including digital assets. As a result, much of my current practice centers on counseling our investment management clients on SEC and other regulatory examinations, investigations, and enforcement matters; internal investigations; and digital asset offerings. I have also been asked to lead the Enforcement Committee for the Virtual Commodity Association in connection with its efforts to establish a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for cryptocurrency marketplaces.

 

What are some recommendations that you have for companies that are considering launching an STO?

In my view, the best course of action is to engage counsel with deep knowledge of both securities law and cryptocurrency. While some lawyers have gotten up to speed on blockchain technology, many may be doing their clients a disservice because they are not as well versed in the fundamentals of the securities laws.

 

At what stage should companies who are considering launching an STO contact you or other legal counsel?

The earlier the better – ideally before any contact with a regulator, and certainly before the offer or sale of any token.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to share with our audience? 

The SEC’s enforcement actions against ICO issuers clearly have had an impact on the market. However, Telegram, Block.one, and Kik were just three of the larger ICOs from the 2017-2018 period. We should see more such cases in the coming months or year. The SEC has brought enforcement actions against celebrity promoters of digital assets, but I would expect a continued focus by the SEC on promoters and sellers. It’s worth noting that one stated goal of SEC enforcement actions is to change the behavior of market participants, so I anticipate the SEC will continue to police digital asset exchanges and trading platforms. It’s the natural next step for the SEC after the issuers and promoters and, as I mentioned, an opportunity to have a wider impact on the market. In a similar vein, while a substantial number of the SEC’s enforcement actions in the space have involved alleged Ponzi schemes or offering frauds, with a continued focus on exchanges and trading platforms, I would not be surprised if, not before long, the SEC unearths more complex frauds involving market manipulation schemes or other market abuses. However, even well-intentioned market participants can be swept up in this and can find themselves the subject of enforcement attention as the SEC continues its efforts to increase industry compliance with securities laws and regulations. Seward & Kissel has been advising clients in financial services, corporate financing, and capital markets for more than 125 years. Our lawyers have extensive experience with STOs and digital asset offerings.

For more information or to consult with legal matters please visit Seward & Kissel LLP, or visit their Twitter or LinkedIn page.

 

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