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SEC:关于数字资产证券发行和交易的声明

SEC:关于数字资产证券发行和交易的声明

要点:

SEC下属的公司金融部、投资管理部以及交易和市场部在 ICO 和各类加密资产交易平台问题上的核心立场:

1. 以投资合约发行和销售的数字资产,无论在交易过程中被冠以何种名称或使用何种技术,均属于证券;

2.对于未注册并违规发行数字资产,不仅需要支付罚金。同时需要按照证券交易法进行证券注册。在注册过程中,如果投资数字资产的投资者要求赔偿,数字证券发行方必须满足其要求;

3. 持有数字资产证券或提供相关投资咨询服务的投资机构,必须依法注册,并且承担受监管和受托人责任;

4. 除申请豁免之外,任何提供数字资产证券交易的平台必须向 SEC 进行注册,任何为证券提供买卖双方撮合交易的平台,无论使用何种技术,必须确定是否属于联邦法律所认定的交易所,然后进行相应注册;

5.除申请豁免之外,任何参与影响其他人账户交易或为他人交易买卖证券的主体均定义为经纪商或经销商。其判断以整个业务过程中主体所承担的行为为标准。一旦满足经纪商或经销商的要求,主体必须根据法律进行注册。

原文:

近年来,我们已经见证了科技的显著的进步—包括区块链和其他的分布式账本技术—对于我们证券市场的影响。这份声明【1】突出强调了证券交易委员会(SEC)近期的执法行为,这些行为涉及到联邦证券法的长期实践与新技术的碰撞。

证券交易委员会中的公司金融部、投资管理部以及交易和市场部(以下简称“部门”)鼓励对投资者和资本市场有益处的技术创新,且我们已经向市场的参与者咨询了关于新技术所产生的话题【2】。然而,我们希望强调的是,当涉及到技术创新时,市场参与者仍必须遵守我们已经确立且完善的联邦证券法律架构,无论其证券是以认证的形式或是使用诸如区块链等新技术来发行。

委员会最近的执法行为包括了AirFox、Paragon、Crypto Asset Management和TokenLot法令以及对EtherDelta的创始人的法令【3】,具体会在下面具体讨论。而这些执法行为显示了公司遵守证券法要求的重要性。广义的来讲,执法行为所针对的问题涉及到三个类型:(1)首次公开发行数字资产证券(包括那些首次公开发行代币(‘1CO’));(2)投资数字资产证券的投资基金以及建议其他人投资这些证券的那些人(译者注:投资顾问);(3)数字资产证券市场的二级市场交易。下面我们将提供部门对于这些问题的观点。

发行和销售数字资产证券

委员会已经对于发售数字资产证券的行为展开了一系列的行动。迄今为止,这些行动已经主要集中于两个重要的问题。第一,根据联邦证券法,何时一个数字资产可以叫做一个“证券”?【4】第二,如果一个数字资产是一个证券,证券交易委员会对于其注册的要求是什么?【5】这两个问题,以及与这两个问题相关联的问题已经在最近委员会对数字资产证券的多次执法行为中得以阐明。特别是,这两个问题的补救措施为违法发行了未注册数字资产证券的发行人,提供了一个解决这一持续违法行为的方法。

今天,委员会向AirFox以及Paragon发布了对于他们未注册发行通证的最终法令。根据这些决定,AirFox和Paragon将要支付罚款并需要根据1934年证券交易法案(以下称为“交易法案”)的第12(g)款将其通证(token)注册为证券,以及定期向委员会上交阶段性报告。如果购买通证的投资者选择要求赔偿,他们也必须同意投资者的要求。通证所需经历的注册是用来保证发行方在发行售卖其通证之前,投资者已经收到关于通证发行者已经遵守了1933年证券法(以下称“证券法”)注册条款的信息。受益于交易法中注册所需的持续披露要求,从发行方在首次公开募资中购买通证的投资者应该可以就是否要求补偿或继续持有发行方的通证做出一个更为明智的决定。【6】

这两个事件展示了即便发行方已经违法进行了未注册数字资产证券的发售,发行方之后是有方式对于联邦证券法进行合规的。

投资数字资产证券的投资基金

1940年投资公司法案(“以下称投资公司法”)建立了一个对于投资证券的集合工具的注册以及法规框架。这一框架适用于集合投资工具以及其服务的提供方,即使当其投资标的为数字资产证券时依旧适用。【7】

在2018年9月11日,委员会签署了一项数字资产管理法令,发现一名对冲基金经理未将其旨在投资数字资产的基金注册为一个投资公司。这一法令发现这一经理涉及一项非法的、未注册的、未豁免的基金募资之中。通过调查,基金超过40%的资产为数字资产证券且涉及一项基金公开募资,该基金经理导致基金作为一个未注册的投资公司进行非法的运行。这一法令也发现该基金经理作为一名投资顾问,违反了1940年投资顾问法(以下称“投资顾问法”)的反欺诈条款,向该基金的投资者作出了误导性陈述。

持有数字资产证券的投资基金以及那些建议他人投资数字资产证券的个人,包括投资基金经理,必须注意“投资公司法”和“投资顾问法”中关于注册、合规以及反欺诈的条款。【8】

数字资产证券的交易

关于二级市场数字资产证券交易,委员会的行动【9】以及工作人员【10】的陈述通常集中于什么行为需要注册为一个国家证券交易所或注册为一个经纪商或经销商,因为这些术语是基于联邦证券法定义的。

交易所注册

区块链和分布式账本技术的发展已经引入了创新的方式来促成数字资产证券的电子化交易。比如,交易平台,通俗的也被称为“去中心化”交易平台结合了传统的技术(诸如基于网络的可以接受并展示订单的系统以及存储订单的服务)和新技术(诸如运行在区块链上的在智能合约,其包含了执行合约条款的编译协议)。这些技术为投资者和市场参与者提供了寻找交易对手、发现价格以及交易各种的数字资产证券的方法。

提供数字资产交易并作为一个“交易所(由联邦证券法定义)”进行运行的平台必须在证券交易委员会中注册成为一个国家证券交易所或得到豁免注册的权利。委员会最近对于EtherDelta(一个促进数字资产交易的平台)创始人的执法行为,强调了交易和市场部门对于那些促成数字资产证券交易但没有向委员会注册且没有豁免的交易平台的持续担忧。【11】

根据委员会的法令,EtherDelta—没有向委员会注册任何资质的机构—通过使用买卖盘提供了撮合买卖双方交易数字资产交易的场所,提供了一个展示订单的网站以及一个运行在以太坊上的智能合约。EtherDelta的智能合约被编译(其中包括)来验证交易信息,确认订单的执行条款和条件,执行匹配交易,且指引分布式账本来进行更新以反映一笔交易的完成。【12】委员会发现EtherDelta的行为明显符合交易所的交易活动,且EtherDelta的创始人既没有将EtherDelta注册为一个国家证券交易所也没有根据交易所豁免注册的条款来运营。【13】

任何提供买卖证券场所的主体【14】,无论使用何种技术,必须基于联邦证券法来确认是否其行为满足交易所的定义。交易所法第3b-16款提供了一个功能性测试来检验是否一个主体满足交易法3部分(a)(1)的交易所定义。一个符合交易所定义的主体必须向委员会注册为一个国家证券交易所或得到注册豁免,比如符合另类交易系统(“ATS”)法规,作为一个ATS进行运行。

不管一个主体如何对其本身或其用于撮合买卖双方交易的具体行为或技术进行描述(译者注:试图表明其并非为交易平台),但是在定义一个主体是否为交易所主要采用的是功能法(考虑相关的事实和情况)。【15】实际发生在买家和卖家之间的行为—而不是相关主体运行和促使交易系统的技术或者名字的种类—才是决定是否一个系统作为一个交易场所进行运行并满足规定3b-16(a)对于交易所的定义。比如,“订单”这一名词在3b-16条款中有意的被广泛的定义,且在系统中买卖双方之间实际的活动—而不是所指定的“交易意向”这一标签—被考虑成为验证是否为交易所的方式。【16】交易所验证(译者注:即评定是否为交易所)包括整个主体行为的评估,以及用于撮合多个证券买卖双方订单并在订单交易时使用“非任意支配”的方式。【17】一个系统“撮合了买家和卖家的订单”的行为意味着其会展示或其他方式将交易意向传递给用户,或系统会集中的接受订单用于未来的处理和执行。【18】

如果一个系统提供了一个交易设备或建立了一个交易标准,那么意味着这一系统使用“建立非任意支配”的方法。比如,一个主体如果提供了一个基于电脑程序或基于区块链上智能合约的算法,那么这一算法作为撮合和执行订单的方式可能就是提供了一个交易的设施。再比如,一个主体建立了交易执行优先顺序,将在系统中交易的数字资产证券的交易条款标准化,或要求订单满足事前确定的交易条款或智能合约,这可能被称为建立交易标准。而且,如果一个主体直接或间接的安排另一个主体来提供各种交易的功能,而这些功能集合在一起满足了法律中对交易所的定义,而可以认为这一主体安排建立了一家交易所。

使用区块链或分布式账本技术用于交易数字资产的主体需要小心的基于持续运营的基础上回顾自己的行为来判断他们交易的数字资产是否为证券,他们的商业行为和服务是否满足交易所的定义。参与此类活动的实体还应考虑除交易所登记要求之外的联邦证券法(以及其他相关法律和监管问题)的其他方面。

经纪商、经销商注册

一个促进了数字资产证券在首次发行期间发行以及二级市场交易的行为的主体可能会承担“经纪商”或“经销商”的职责,这两项职责的均需要在证券交易委员会中注册,并成为自律组织的一员,一般为美国金融业监管局(FINRA)。除此之外,美国证券交易委员会注册的经纪商和经销商受到法律和法规的约束,这为投资者提供了重要的保障。

证券交易法第15(a)规定,没有任何例外和豁免,任何经纪商或经销商劝诱或试图劝诱购买或销售任何金融产品,除非经销商或经纪商的初测符合证券交易法第15(b)。证券交易法第3(a)(4)定义经纪商为参与影响其他人账户中的证券交易业务的任何人。证券交易法第3(a)(5)定义经销商用他人账户通过经纪商或其他方式为任何为他人购买或销售证券的任何人。正如交易所定义的方法,功能性的方法(考虑相关事实和场景)应用于评估是否一个主体满足经纪商或经销商,无论一个主体是描述其自己自身还是其技术来提供这一服务的。【19】

委员会最近的TokenLot法令阐明了经销商-经纪商注册的要求是适用于交易或促进数字资产证券交易的实体,即使它们不符合交易所的定义。根据这一法令,TokenLot将其自己定义为“1CO的超市”,投资者可以在数字资产包括数字资产证券的首次募资期间或募资完成之后进行购买,包括私募和预售阶段。其经纪活动包括营销和促进数字资产的销售,接受投资者的订单和支付资金,以及支付发行人的收益。他们还根据1CO筹集的所得款项的百分比获得佣金,但须保证最低佣金。 TokenLot还通过定期购买然后转售由TokenLot账户中由公司运营者控制的帐户的数字代币来充当经销商。

结论

本部门鼓励并支持创新以及对市场有益的技术在证券市场的应用。然而,本部门建议采用新技术的个人和主体对于联邦证券法的适用问题向法律咨询机构进行咨询,并在必要时与委员会工作人员联系以寻求帮助。

来源:https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/digital-asset-securites-issuuance-and-trading?from=timeline&isappinstalled=0#_edn4

翻译:Tlab Reseach 姜孜龙

[1] 这一声明代表了公司金融部、投资管理部、交易和市场部的观点。它不是一个规定、法规或者证券交易委员会(下面称“委员会”)的声明。委员会也并没有对此内容表达同意或反对的观点。

[2] 委员会主席以及公司金融部主管也对于这一话题提出了官方的声明。参见:对于首次公司发行代币(1CO)的观点(2017年12月11日),可见:https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/statement-clayton-2017-12-11; ;数字资产交易:当Howey遇见Gary(Plastic)(June 14, 2018), 可见: https://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speech-hinman-061418. (2018年6月14日),参见https://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speech-hinman-061418。

[3] 参见 CarrierEQ, Inc., Rel. No.33-10575 (2018年11月16日); Paragon Coin, Inc., Rel. No.33-10574 (Nov. 16, 2018); Zachary Coburn, Rel. No.34-84553 (2018年11月8日) (settled order) (“CoburnOrder”); Crypto Asset Management, LP and Timothy Enneking, Rel. No.33-10544 (20189月11日) (settledorder) (“Crypto Asset Management Order”); and Tokenlot LLC, Lenny Kugel, and Eli L. Lewitt, Rel. No.33-10543 (2018年9月11日) (settled order) (“TokenLotOrder”)。

[4] 在2017年7月27日,委员会发行了一个报告,其中涵盖特定数字资产为证券这一内容并解释了数字资产证券的发行必须注册发行和销售,除非有明确的豁免可以应用。对于1934年证券交易法第21(a)项的调查依据报告:去中心化组织(2017年7月25日),参见 https://www.sec.gov/litigation/investreport/34-81207.pdf. 在2017年12月11日,委员会发布了一个解决法令,针对一个名为Munchee,Inc.的发行方,明确表达出即便一个通证声称其为效用通证,其仍可能为证券。 Munchee, Inc.,Securities Act Rel. No. 10445 (2017年12月11日) (settledorder) (“Munchee Order”). 两项内容共同而言,去中心化组织报告和Munchee法令强调了以投资合同销售的数字资产(无论在流转过程中的术语和技术是什么)均为证券 。

[5]当然,如果一个证券被提供或销售,美国证券法中的反欺诈保护条款就适用。委员会已经签署了一系列执法行为包括数字资产包括那些具有欺骗性的1CO。参见 https://www.sec.gov/spotlight/cybersecurity-enforcement-actions(列举了数字资产相关的执法行为)。

[6]如本文所讨论的,与数字资产证券的提供和销售相关的活动引出联邦证券法下的其他法律和监管问题和考虑因素,包括例如经纪人和经销商注册方面在法律方面的考量。

[7]有关与投资某些数字资产的注册投资公司相关问题的讨论,参见给ICI和SIFMA AMG的员工信件:涉及基金创新和数字相关控股,可见https://www.sec.gov/investment/fund-innovation-cryptocurrency-related-holdings。

[8] 此外,集合投资基金不仅投资证券,而且自身也是证券发行人。虽然这里没有涉及,但是当证券使用新技术(如区块链)时,与投资工具的证券发售和销售相关的联邦证券法的要求同样适用。

[9]参见, e.g. Coburn 法令 and TokenLot 法令。

[10]参见执行部及交易和市场部关于潜在非法线上数字资产交易平台的声明(2018年3月7日),参见https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/enforcement-tm-statement-potentially-unlawful-online-platforms-trading。

[11]参见 id。

[12]Coburn 法令6-7。

[13]如Coburn Order所述,委员会的调查结果是根据被申请人的和解提议作出的,并不对任何其他人或实体具有约束力。

[14]本声明中讨论的相关法律和监管要求适用于自然人或实体。但是,为便于参考,本声明通常仅指实体。

[15]在其法规ATS通过发布时,委员会讨论了构成交换的内容,并提供了说明规则3b-16的各种应用的示例。参见交易所及另类交易系统法规,Exchange Act Rel.No. 40760 (Dec. 8, 1998), 63 FR 70844 (Dec. 22, 1998), 可见 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-12-22/pdf/98-33299.pdf。

[16]参见 id70844。 

[17]参见id 70852。

[18]参见id 70852。

[19]对于从事数字资产证券活动的实体,还需要考虑联邦证券法中其他的潜在的法律和监管问题,例如清算机构和转让代理注册。

英文原文如下:

Statement on Digital Asset Securities Issuance and Trading

Division of Corporation Finance, Division of Investment Management, and Division of Trading and Markets

Nov. 16, 2018

In recent years, we have seen significant advances in technologies – including blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies – that impact our securities markets. This statement[1] highlights several recent Commission enforcement actions involving the intersection of long-standing applications of our federal securities laws and new technologies.

The Commission’s Divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management, and Trading and Markets (the “Divisions”) encourage technological innovations that benefit investors and our capital markets, and we have been consulting with market participants regarding issues presented by new technologies.[2]  We wish to emphasize, however, that market participants must still adhere to our well-established and well-functioning federal securities law framework when dealing with technological innovations, regardless of whether the securities are issued in certificated form or using new technologies, such as blockchain.

The Commission’s recent enforcement actions involving AirFox, Paragon, Crypto Asset Management, TokenLot, and EtherDelta’s founder,[3] discussed further below, illustrate the importance of complying with these requirements. Broadly speaking, the issues raised in these actions fall into three categories: (1) initial offers and sales of digital asset securities (including those issued in initial coin offerings (“ICOs”)); (2) investment vehicles investing in digital asset securities and those who advise others about investing in these securities; and (3) secondary market trading of digital asset securities. Below, we provide the Divisions’ views on these issues. 

Offers and Sales of Digital Asset Securities

The Commission has brought a number of actions involving offerings of digital asset securities. To date, these actions have principally focused on two important questions.  First, when is a digital asset a “security” for purposes of the federal securities laws?[4] Second, if a digital asset is a security, what Commission registration requirements apply?[5] The importance of these and related issues is illustrated by several recent Commission enforcement actions involving digital asset securities. In particular, the remedial measures in two of these matters demonstrate a way to address ongoing violations by issuers that have conducted illegal unregistered offerings of digital asset securities.

Today, the Commission issued settled orders against AirFox and Paragon in connection with their unregistered offerings of tokens. Pursuant to these orders, AirFox and Paragon will pay penalties and also have undertaken to register the tokens as securities under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) and to file periodic reports with the Commission. They have also agreed to compensate investors who purchased tokens in the illegal offerings if an investor elects to make a claim. The registration undertakings are designed to ensure that investors receive the type of information they would have received had these issuers complied with the registration provisions of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) prior to the offer and sale of tokens in their respective ICOs. With the benefit of the ongoing disclosure provided by registration under the Exchange Act, investors who purchased the tokens from the issuers in the ICOs should be able to make a more informed decision as to whether to seek reimbursement or continue to hold their tokens.[6]

These two matters demonstrate that there is a path to compliance with the federal securities laws going forward, even where issuers have conducted an illegal unregistered offering of digital asset securities.

Investment Vehicles Investing in Digital Asset Securities

The Investment Company Act of 1940 (“Investment Company Act”) establishes a registration and regulatory framework for pooled vehicles that invest in securities. This framework applies to a pooled investment vehicle, and its service providers, even when the securities in which it invests are digital asset securities.[7]

On Sept. 11, 2018, the Commission issued the Crypto Asset Management Order, finding that the manager of a hedge fund formed for the purpose of investing in digital assets had improperly failed to register the fund as an investment company. The order found that the manager engaged in an unlawful, unregistered, non-exempt, public offering of the fund. By investing more than 40 percent of the fund’s assets in digital asset securities and engaging in a public offering of interests in the fund, the manager caused the fund to operate unlawfully as an unregistered investment company. The order also found that the fund’s manager was an investment adviser, and that the manager had violated the antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“Advisers Act”) by making misleading statements to investors in the fund.

Investment vehicles that hold digital asset securities and those who advise others about investing in digital asset securities, including managers of investment vehicles, must be mindful of registration, regulatory and fiduciary obligations under the Investment Company Act and the Advisers Act.[8] 

Trading of Digital Asset Securities

Commission actions[9]and staff statements[10]involving secondary market trading of digital asset securities have generally focused on what activities require registration as a national securities exchange or registration as a broker or dealer, as those terms are defined under the federal securities laws.

Exchange Registration

Advancements in blockchain and distributed ledger technology have introduced innovative methods for facilitating electronic trading in digital asset securities. Platforms colloquially referred to as “decentralized” trading platforms, for example, combine traditional technology (such as web-based systems that accept and display orders and servers that store orders) with new technology (such as smart contracts run on a blockchain that contain coded protocols to execute the terms of the contract). These technologies provide the means for investors and market participants to find counterparties, discover prices, and trade a variety of digital asset securities.

A platform that offers trading in digital asset securities and operates as an “exchange” (as defined by the federal securities laws) must register with the Commission as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration. The Commission’s recent enforcement action against the founder of EtherDelta, a platform facilitating trading digital assets securities, underscores the Division of Trading and Markets’ ongoing concerns about the failure of platforms that facilitate trading in digital asset securities to register with the Commission absent an exemption from registration.[11]

According to the Commission’s order, EtherDelta—which was not registered with the Commission in any capacity—provided a marketplace for bringing together buyers and sellers for digital asset securities through the combined use of an order book, a website that displayed orders, and a smart contract run on the Ethereum blockchain.  EtherDelta’s smart contract was coded to, among other things, validate order messages, confirm the terms and conditions of orders, execute paired orders, and direct the distributed ledger to be updated to reflect a trade.[12] The Commission found that EtherDelta’s activities clearly fell within the definition of an exchange and that EtherDelta’s founder caused the platform’s failure either to register as a national securities exchange or operate pursuant to an exemption from registration as an exchange.[13]

Any entity[14]that provides a marketplace for bringing together buyers and sellers of securities, regardless of the applied technology, must determine whether its activities meet the definition of an exchange under the federal securities laws. Exchange Act Rule 3b-16 provides a functional test to assess whether an entity meets the definition of an exchange under Section 3(a)(1) of the Exchange Act. An entity that meets the definition of an exchange must register with the Commission as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration, such as by operating as an alternative trading system (“ATS”) in compliance with Regulation ATS.

Notwithstanding how an entity may characterize itself or the particular activities or technology used to bring together buyers and sellers, a functional approach (taking into account the relevant facts and circumstances) will be applied when assessing whether a system constitutes an exchange.[15]  The activity that actually occurs between the buyers and sellers—and not the kind of technology or the terminology used by the entity operating or promoting the system—determines whether the system operates as a marketplace and meets the criteria of an exchange under Rule 3b-16(a).  For instance, the term “order” for purposes of Rule 3b-16 is intended to be broadly construed, and the actual activities among buyers and sellers on the system—not the labels assigned to indications of trading interest—will be considered for purposes of the exchange analysis.[16]

The exchange analysis includes an assessment of the totality of activities and technology used to bring together orders of multiple buyers and sellers for securities using “established non-discretionary methods”under which such orders interact.[17]  A system “brings together orders of buyer and sellers” if, for example, it displays, or otherwise represents, trading interest entered on a system to users or if the system receives users’ orders centrally for future processing and execution.[18]

A system uses established non-discretionary methods if it provides a trading facility or sets rules.  For example, an entity that provides an algorithm, run on a computer program or on a smart contract using blockchain technology, as a means to bring together or execute orders could be providing a trading facility. As another example, an entity that sets execution priorities, standardizes material terms for digital asset securities traded on the system, or requires orders to conform with predetermined protocols of a smart contract, could be setting rules. Additionally, if one entity arranges for other entities, either directly or indirectly, to provide the various functions of a trading system that together meet the definition of an exchange, the entity arranging the collective efforts could be considered to have established an exchange.

Entities using blockchain or distributed ledger technology for trading digital assets should carefully review their activities on an ongoing basis to determine whether the digital assets they are trading are securities and whether their activities or services cause them to satisfy the definition of an exchange. An entity engaging in these types of activities should also consider other aspects of the federal securities laws (and other relevant legal and regulatory issues) beyond exchange registration requirements.

Broker-Dealer Registration

An entity that facilitates the issuance of digital asset securities in ICOs and secondary trading in digital asset securities may also be acting as a “broker” or “dealer” that is required to register with the Commission and become a member of a self-regulatory organization, typically FINRA.  Among other things, SEC-registered broker-dealers are subject to legal and regulatory requirements that govern their conduct in the marketplace and that provide important safeguards for investors.

Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act provides that, absent an exception or exemption, it is unlawful for any broker or dealer to induce or attempt to induce the purchase or sale, of any security unless such broker or dealer is registered in accordance with Section 15(b) of the Exchange Act. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act generally defines a “broker” to mean any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others. Section 3(a)(5) of the Exchange Act generally defines a “dealer” to mean any person engaged in the business of buying and selling securities for such person’s own account through a broker or otherwise. As with the “exchange” determination, a functional approach (taking into account the relevant facts and circumstances) is applied to assess whether an entity meets the definition of a broker or dealer, regardless of how an entity may characterize either itself or the particular activities or technology used to provide the services.[19]

The Commission’s recent TokenLot Order illustrates the application of the broker-dealer registration requirements to entities trading or facilitating transactions in digital asset securities, even if they do not meet the definition of an exchange. According to the order, TokenLot was a self-described “ICO superstore” where investors could purchase digital assets, including digital asset securities, during or after an ICO, including in private sales and pre-sales. The parties’ brokerage activities included marketing and facilitating the sale of digital assets, accepting investors’ orders and funds for payment, and enabling the disbursement of proceeds to the issuers. They also received compensation based on a percentage of the proceeds raised in the ICOs, subject to a guaranteed minimum commission. TokenLot also acted as a dealer by regularly purchasing and then reselling digital tokens for accounts in TokenLot’s name that were controlled by its operators.

Conclusion

The Divisions encourage and support innovation and the application of beneficial technologies in our securities markets. However, the Divisions recommend that those employing new technologies consult with legal counsel concerning the application of the federal securities laws and contact Commission staff, as necessary, for assistance. For further information, and to contact Commission staff for assistance, please visit the Commission’s new FinHub page.  

[1]This statement represents the views of the Divisions of Corporation Finance, Investment Management, and Trading and Markets.  It is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”).  The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content.  

[2]The Chairman of the Commission and the Director of the Division of Corporation Finance have also provided public statements on this subject.  See, e.g., Statement on Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (Dec. 11, 2017), available at https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/statement-clayton-2017-12-11; Digital Asset Transactions:  When Howey Met Gary (Plastic) (June 14, 2018), available at https://www.sec.gov/news/speech/speech-hinman-061418.

[3]See CarrierEQ, Inc., Rel. No. 33-10575 (Nov. 16, 2018); Paragon Coin, Inc., Rel. No. 33-10574 (Nov. 16, 2018); Zachary Coburn, Rel. No. 34-84553 (Nov. 8, 2018) (settled order) (“Coburn Order”); Crypto Asset Management, LP and Timothy Enneking, Rel. No. 33-10544 (Sept. 11, 2018) (settled order) (“Crypto Asset Management Order”); and Tokenlot LLC, Lenny Kugel, and Eli L. Lewitt, Rel. No. 33-10543 (Sept. 11, 2018) (settled order) (“TokenLot Order”).

[4]On July 27, 2017, the Commission issued a report, which concluded that particular digital assets were securities and explained that issuers of digital asset securities must register offers and sales of such securities unless a valid exemption applies. Report of Investigation Pursuant to Section 21(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: The DAO (July 25, 2017) (“DAO Report”), available at https://www.sec.gov/litigation/investreport/34-81207.pdf. On Dec. 11, 2017, the Commission issued a settled order against an issuer named Munchee, Inc., making clear that a token may be a security even if it has some purported utility.  Munchee, Inc., Securities Act Rel. No. 10445 (Dec. 11, 2017) (settled order) (“Munchee Order”).  Together, the DAO Report and the Munchee Order emphasize that digital assets offered and sold as investment contracts (regardless of the terminology or technology used in the transaction) are securities.  

[5]Of course, if a security is being offered or sold, the anti-fraud protections of the U.S. securities laws apply.  The Commission has filed a number of enforcement actions involving digital assets, including those alleging fraudulent ICOs.  See https://www.sec.gov/spotlight/cybersecurity-enforcement-actions(listing digital asset-related enforcement actions).

[6] As discussed herein, activities relating to the offer and sale of digital asset securities can also raise other legal and regulatory issues and considerations under the federal securities laws, including, for example, broker and dealer registration considerations. 

[7]For a discussion of some questions that are relevant to registered investment companies that invest in certain digital assets, see Staff Letter to ICI and SIFMA AMG:  Engaging on Fund Innovation and Crypto-related Holdings, available at https://www.sec.gov/investment/fund-innovation-cryptocurrency-related-holdings.

[8]In addition, pooled investment vehicles not only invest in securities but also are themselves issuers of securities. Although not addressed here, the requirements of the federal securities laws relating to an investment vehicle’s offer and sale of securities apply to the same extent when those securities use new technologies, such as blockchain, as when they do not.

[9]See, e.g. Coburn Order and TokenLot Order.

[10]See Divisions of Enforcement and Trading and Markets, Statement on Potentially Unlawful Online Platforms for Trading Digital Assets (March 7, 2018), available at https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/enforcement-tm-statement-potentially-unlawful-online-platforms-trading.

[11]See id.

[12]Coburn Order at 6-7.

[13]As stated in the Coburn Order, the Commission’s findings were made pursuant to the respondent’s offer of settlement and are not binding on any other person or entity.

[14]The relevant legal and regulatory requirements discussed in this statement apply to natural persons or entities.  However, for ease of reference, this statement generally refers only to entities.  

[15]In its Regulation ATS adopting release, the Commission discussed what constitutes an exchange and provided examples illustrating various applications of Rule 3b-16.  See Regulation of Exchanges and Alternative Trading Systems, Exchange Act Rel. No. 40760 (Dec. 8, 1998), 63 FR 70844 (Dec. 22, 1998), available at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-12-22/pdf/98-33299.pdf.

[16]See generally id. at 70844.      

[17]See id. at 70852.

[18]See id. at 70852.

[19]There are other potential legal and regulatory issues and considerations under the federal securities laws for entities engaging in digital asset securities activities, including clearing agency and transfer agent registration considerations, among other things.  

根据国家《关于防范代币发行融资风险的公告》,大家应警惕代币发行融资与交易的风险隐患。

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