The cryptocurrency fad has spawned a cottage industry of folks offering cryptocurrencies purportedly backed by one asset or another. There has been some fraud occurring with these offerings. A US District judge has ruled that the fraud cases can be prosecuted for violating the federal Securities Exchange Act:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...er-cryptocurrencies-judge-rules-idUSKCN1LR26ZU.S. securities law can be used to prosecute fraud cases over cryptocurrency offerings, a New York federal judge ruled on Tuesday in what appeared to be the first court decision to address the issue.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn allows federal prosecutors to pursue their case against Maksim Zaslavskiy. The Brooklyn resident was arrested in November on charges that he defrauded investors in two cryptocurrencies, violating the federal Securities Exchange Act.
Prosecutors have said that Zaslavskiy last year raised at least $300,000 from investors in a cryptocurrency called REcoin, which he claimed was backed by real estate, and another cryptocurrency called Diamond, which he said was backed by diamonds.
In fact, prosecutors said, no real estate or diamonds backed the virtual currencies.
In March, Zaslavskiy’s lawyers asked Dearie to dismiss the charges, arguing that REcoin and Diamond were currencies, not securities, and therefore not covered by the Securities Exchange Act.
Dearie rejected that argument, writing on Tuesday that the federal securities law must be interpreted “flexibly.” The judge noted that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which brings civil securities fraud actions, has said that it considers some cryptocurrencies to be securities.
Dearie’s opinion and other filings in the case did not cite any previous court decisions addressing whether the federal securities law can be used in a fraud prosecution involving cryptocurrencies.
Regulation of virtual currencies is still in its early stages, and Congress has not passed any laws addressing it directly.
In March, another federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that cryptocurrencies could be regulated as commodities by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission