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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFTC charges commodity trading group with fraudulent digital token scheme

Courts CFTC Commodity Exchange Act Fraud Fintech

Courts

On April 16, the CFTC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against a commodity trading adviser and the companies he controlled (collectively, “defendants”) for allegedly soliciting customers and prospective customers to buy now-delisted and worthless digital tokens. The CFTC alleged that the defendants violated the Commodity Exchange Act by making untrue and materially misleading representations about their digital tokens’ function and the performance of a proprietary foreign exchange trading algorithm that the defendants claimed would deliver high rates of return. According to the CFTC, while the defendants knew that none of the customers could lawfully use the algorithm until the defendants’ risk disclosures were approved by the National Futures Association, they still sold the tokens and raised more than $1.6 million based on the premise that the algorithm was ready to be released on the open market. The CFTC claimed, however, that the disclosures were never approved, customers never gained access to the algorithm, and the tokens were eventually delisted by all the digital asset exchanges. The CFTC seeks to enjoin the defendants’ allegedly unlawful acts and practices and to compel compliance with the Commodity Exchange Act and regulations. In addition, the CFTC seeks restitution, civil money penalties, trading and registration bans, and other statutory, injunctive, or equitable relief as deemed necessary and appropriate.

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