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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

New York takes action on cryptocurrency lending platforms

State Issues State Attorney General Fintech Cryptocurrency Enforcement New York

State Issues

On October 18, the New York attorney general ordered two unregistered cryptocurrency lending platforms to immediately cease their activities in the state and directed three additional platforms to provide information about their activities and products. The AG clarified that most virtual currency lending products “fall squarely within any of several categories of ‘security’ under the Martin Act,” and therefore platforms must comply with the Martin Act’s registration requirements unless exempt. According to the AG, the virtual currency lending products identified in these actions “promise a fixed or variable rate of return to investors, and claim to deliver those returns by, among other things, trading with, or further lending those virtual assets.” As such, the products are securities under the Martin Act, particularly those that accept virtual currencies in exchange for a rate of return. The press release provided a redacted version of a cease letter sent to one of the two unregistered platforms, which stated that platforms engaging in unregistered activity have committed a fraudulent practice under the Martin Act and may face civil remedies. The platform is ordered to cease the alleged activity within 10 days or explain why the AG should not take further action. A different redacted letter requested information about the recipient’s products, where it operates, how the platform uses deposited virtual currency, whether U.S. dollars can be deposited or withdrawn from the platform, all financial institutions that are used, and whether the companies accept tethers, among other things. The letter also requested examples of agreements, contracts, and risk disclosures, as well as due diligence policies and procedures. These letters follow other actions taken recently by the AG against cryptocurrency trading platforms and token issuers (see e.g. InfoBytes here and here).

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