Articles Posted in Cryptocurrencies

On Wednesday, April 17, 2024, Malecki Law’s Jenice L. Malecki, Esq., will participate in a virtual panel organized by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA). This is a joint effort by the NYSBA’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section’s Securities Arbitration Committee and the Dispute Resolution Sections’ Securities Disputes Committee. Ms. Malecki will speak alongside her colleagues in the industry, Howard Fischer, and Joe Wojciechowski. If you incurred investment losses due to crypto-based products, you need to consult with a Crypto-Based Investment attorney in New York, like the lawyers at Malecki law.

The panel is called “The Current State of Crypto Cases: What Theories Are Being Developed to Support claims Relating to Crypto Losses?” It will begin at 12:00 p.m. EST and end at 1:00 p.m. EST. The panel will focus on liability related to crypto recommendations and broker-dealers. It is free to attend, please click here to register.

Ms. Malecki is looking forward to discussing her first-hand experiences with broker-dealer liability as it relates to crypto-based investment recommendations. Malecki Law has recently settled with a large crypto-based broker-dealer, where Ms. Malecki had the opportunity to learn more about broker-dealer liability in the context of crypto losses. Further, Ms. Malecki enjoys speaking on panels and sharing information with other lawyers in the industry, in an effort to protect investors like yourself. Did your broker recommend that you invest in crypto-based investments? Were those investment recommendations in your best interest? You should reach out to a Crypto-Based Investment law firm, like Malecki Law in New York.

Grayscale led the fight at the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) for approval of spot bitcoin-exchange traded funds (“ETFs”). The battle began in 2022 after the SEC rejected Grayscale’s application to convert its bitcoin trust into a spot bitcoin exchange-traded fund because spot markets are unregulated and susceptible to fraud and market manipulation. Any Crypto-based attorney will tell you that the SEC has a long way to go in regulating these new products.

In June 2023, the SEC approved the first ever leveraged bitcoin futures ETF, which gave Greyscale the ammunition it needed to march into battle with the SEC to get its own bitcoin spot-based ETF approved. Greyscale argued that, by denying bitcoin spot-based ETFs, the regulator was treating similar bitcoin investment products differently. Rather than raising the white flag, Grayscale further argued that distinguishing between bitcoin futures and bitcoin spot markets is flawed because the two are interrelated in that bitcoin futures prices closely tracked bitcoin spot markets. Unlike a futures-based ETF, spot-based ETFs own actual bitcoins and are stored in a digital vault managed by registered custodians. Futures-based ETFs replicate bitcoin prices using futures contracts.

Grayscale experienced a major victory on August 29, 2023, when a federal court ruled that the SEC’s decision to approve two bitcoin futures funds while rejecting Grayscale’s application to turn its bitcoin trust into a bitcoin spot ETF was [“arbitrary and capricious”]. Further, the court found that the SEC’s denial was in violation of federal administrative law because the SEC failed to explain its inconsistent treatment of similar products.

On January 10, 2024, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) released a statement announcing the approval of the listing and trading of spot bitcoin exchange-traded product shares on national securities exchanges. This move by the SEC comes after years of heated debate between financial professionals, regulators, members of Congress, and the general public over the regulation of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. The SEC’s approval of crypto ETFs signals the first step in the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies in traditional investment portfolios, but are the necessary guardrails in place to ensure investors are protected?

In the statement, the SEC noted that sponsors of crypto ETFs are required to provide investors with full and fair disclosures about the products being offered, similar to the requirements on sponsors of traditional investment products. Further, the SEC explained that the standards for recommending and selling traditional investment products, like Regulation Best Interest and fiduciary duties, will also apply to the recommendation and sale of crypto ETFs as well. While these requirements represent a solid foundation for the protection of investors, the experienced Securities Crypto Fraud Law attorneys at Malecki Law feel investors are still at risk when investing in crypto ETFs and digital asset private placements. Malecki Law has represented some, if not the first, crypto-related securities investors successfully in FINRA arbitration.

Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, are funds that trade on national securities exchanges, generally track a basket of securities, and sometimes viewed as safer investments because they are inherently diversified. However, cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, have a remarkably brief history compared to traditional investment products, like stocks, bonds, or ETFs. Cryptocurrencies are known to be extremely volatile, meaning they can experience large price swings in a short period of time, and have, in part, been historically used for nefarious purposes, such as money laundering and illicit online purchases. While being on an exchange may “seem” regulated, the underlying asset, Bitcoin, is still largely unregulated, subject to fraud risk, and can be volatile to the point of no return. Investors must stay hyper vigilant about the risks associated with crypto ETFs that are recommended and sold to them. These ETFs are highly speculative. If you have suffered investment losses in crypto ETFs or cryptocurrency-related private placements, the New York City Securities Digital Asset Fraud Attorneys at Malecki Law may be able to help you recover your losses.

Malecki Law regularly receives calls from people distraught by having funds stolen from their cryptocurrency (“crypto”) accounts. Unfortunately, the scant regulation in the crypto space has yet to be fully tested. In fact, according to Reuters, “[the] illicit use of cryptocurrencies hit a record $20.1 billion last year…” However, if you lost money in your Coinbase account, you may have an avenue to recoup those funds. If funds were stolen from your crypto account, you need to contact a Crypto-Based Theft law firm in New York, like Malecki Law, to review your potential claim.

Interestingly, Coinbase markets itself as safe to customers by representing that it takes “extensive security measures” to ensure investors’ crypto investments are “safe.” Notwithstanding the supposed safety and security measures it has in place, Coinbase is reportedly prone to scams and hacks, which can result in theft from customers’ accounts. Crypto investors who have had funds stolen from their accounts often find themselves left with no way to get their funds returned to them, but there might be recourse. In January 2023, Coinbase settled with New York State’s Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) for $100 million due to cybersecurity, anti-money laundering (“AML”), and compliance-related issues. Specifically, Coinbase was ordered to pay $50 million in civil monetary penalties, and an additional $50 million “on further improvements and enhancements to its compliance program.” See In the Matter of Coinbase, Inc.

What is the relevant law providing for recourse? The Electronic Funds Transfer Act (“EFTA”) is a possible way to get your funds back.

Can my broker or investment advisor sell me cryptocurrency (“crypto”)? Is it an investment? The answer is not so simple; no, they cannot sell it directly, but they may try to sell it to you indirectly through a fund or private placement. Rest assured, it is still just as volatile and not appropriate for most investors. Malecki Law is looking into the sale of crypto-based products, as they have been on the rise. Although investors might be intrigued and ecstatic to get into the new shiny investment on the street, it is still a high-risk bet, no matter what your investment professional may say.

Investing in something new can be enticing, but it does not necessarily mean that it is in your best interest as an investor. If you were sold crypto-based products and sustained substantial losses, you need a Crypto-Based Investment law firm in New York, like Malecki Law, to review your potential claim.

What is crypto? Digital assets are the umbrella which crypto falls under. There is a wider range of assets that land under the digital assets umbrella, such as non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”). The common denominator of the variety of digital assets is that they tend to use blockchain technology. Crypto consists of a broad range of virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH).

Few would dispute that Cryptocurrency – whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, or the thousands of other smaller coins – is a speculative and risky investment. The volatility alone in these coins was showcased this past weekend, with Bitcoin suddenly plunging over 25% from nearly $57,000 to just over $42,000 per unit. This is mere weeks after Bitcoin had dropped from its all-time high of roughly $69,000 in early November. Needless to say, investing in crypto is not for the faint of heart and certainly not the type of investment you would see in the portfolio of a risk-averse retiree. Yet it is possible that retirees and conservative investors who rely on financial advisors to manage their retirement assets are receiving exposure to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies without even realizing it.

Crypto is a polarizing topic, with some insisting that it is the future, others distrusting it as a Ponzi-type pump and dump, and many more who have no understanding of what it is at all. World governments have traditionally been reluctant to adopt crypto because they see it as a threat to their central banks and control over their fiat currencies, but approaches to regulation vary.  China has outright banned crypto, El Salvador has fully adopted Bitcoin to allow its citizens to shop and pay taxes with, and most other countries (including the United States) are still figuring out how to regulate it.

Financial institutions have been even slower at the notion of adoption because the nature of blockchain transactions poses a threat to the “middleman” place of these institutions in brokering everyday global transactions. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has been famously on record for nearly a decade, repeatedly calling Bitcoin “worthless,” “fool’s gold,” and a “fraud.” Yet now it is becoming commonplace for retailers to accept certain cryptocurrencies as payment directly from their customers, with no more hassle than it is to process a credit card or any other electronic payment.

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