On May 23, 2019, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”)’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert entitled “Safeguarding Customer Records and Information in Network Storage – Use of Third Party Security Features” (the “Risk Alert”). The Risk Alert highlights the risks associated with the storage of customer records and information by broker-dealers and investment advisors on cloud-based storage platforms.
Last week, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities & Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced charges connected to a large-scale, international conspiracy to hack into the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (“EDGAR”) system and profit by trading on stolen material, non-public information. The conduct underlying these cases was one of the principal reasons that the SEC created its Division of Enforcement “Cyber Unit” to target cyber-related securities fraud violations.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its most significant case ever filed against a respondent for one of the world’s largest data breaches. Albata, Inc., f/d/b/a Yahoo! Inc., (“Yahoo”) settled with the SEC to charges of violating Section 17(a)(2) and 17 (a)(3) of the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”), amongst other charges, and agreed to various remedies, including a $35 million penalty.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) obtained a court order freezing more than $27 million in proceeds from alleged illegal distributions and sales of restricted shares of a public company , and charged the company, its CEO, and three other affiliated individuals on April 6, 2018. That same day, the Nasdaq Stock Market halted trading in the company’s stock.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that shortly after the company began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market and announced the acquisition of a purported blockchain-empowered cryptocurrency business, its stock price rose dramatically until its market capitalization exceeded $3 billion. The SEC further alleges that the CEO and the three other individual defendants then illegally sold large blocks of their restricted shares to the public while the stock price was excessively elevated and that they collectively reaped more than $27 million in profits.
A recent flurry of activity by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in court, and strong talk on the Hill, gives a clear indication that the U.S. regulatory agency is making a significant push to rein in the current wild-west atmosphere of investments in Blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.
In the wake of the DAO Report issued by the SEC in July 2017, the agency released several Investor Alerts to warn the public of the risks associated with investing in initial coin offerings (ICOs), including an alert to warn investors to be careful about advertisements by celebrities promoting ICOs and other Blockchain-related investments. Moreover, the SEC chairman and his counterpart at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have recently released statements and op-eds and appeared before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee to elevate the awareness of lawmakers and the public of some of these risks.
On December 4, 2017, the SEC Enforcement Division’s new Cyber Unit filed its first enforcement case for a fraudulent initial coin offering (ICO). This new specialty unit was established in late September to increase the Enforcement Division’s focus on cyber-related securities law violations. The focus areas of this unit include securities laws violations involving “blockchain” technologies and ICOs.
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