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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court prevents disposal of cryptocurrency linked to hack

Courts Cryptocurrency Commodity Exchange Act Of Interest to Non-US Persons

Courts

On August 23, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York preliminarily enjoined defendants “from selling, transferring, assigning, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of cryptocurrency transferred in [] transactions” following a July attack on a cryptocurrency exchange network with New York-based operations. According to the cryptocurrency exchange plaintiff’s petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO), the defendants allegedly hacked the network in order to make fraudulent transfers and defraud U.S. users by generating fake bitcoin in violation of the Commodities Exchange Act. The plaintiff contended that the defendants “transferred the cryptocurrency to other exchanges serving New York customers with the intent to sell them,” adding that if the defendants “are permitted to undertake such sales, they will almost certainly transact with New York-based counterparties.” The plaintiff urged the court to issue an injunction, arguing that because the defendants are foreign and it is “impossible to identify hackers intent on fraud, there is almost no likelihood that they would pay a damage award. Short of receiving an injunction of already-identified, fraud-begotten cryptocurrency, there is no way for Petitioner to secure ultimate recovery.” The court’s order also kept in place other third-party exchanges’ existing freezes on accounts thought to hold any of the cryptocurrency at issue. The order is intended to aid the plaintiff in its impending arbitration with the defendants.

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