A recent Bloomberg article reported that average prices for nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, are down approximately 70 percent from recent highs. A wide range of NFTs have begun to enter the marketplace over the past several months. A digital work of art represented by an NFT recently sold at auction for over $69 million, and even a professional sports league has begun to issue NFTs. A fascinating debate about the social and economic utility of NFTs has emerged, but what are some of the legal issues associated with this new digital asset class?
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As we previously reported, the New York Attorney General has been in protracted litigation with crypto exchange Bitfinex and affiliated stablecoin-issuer Tether. On February 23, 2021, the Attorney General announced a definitive settlement of the matter. The settlement cements the New York Attorney General’s intention aggressively to police the virtual currency marketplace using the expansive anti-fraud authority granted under the Martin Act
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In some of her first remarks on the subject of digital assets since Senate confirmation, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sounded an alarm on Bitcoin. In an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, Secretary Yellen described Bitcoin as frequently used “for illicit finance” and “an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions.”
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In the past week, Canadian securities regulators approved the offering of the first two Canadian Bitcoin ETFs. By holding Bitcoin, the Canadian funds intend to provide investors with access to the US dollar and Canadian dollar price of Bitcoin through an ETF structure. The ETF units have been conditionally approved for listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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As has been widely reported, President Biden has nominated Gary Gensler to be the next chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The former CFTC chairman under President Obama, Gensler currently teaches courses on blockchain and digital assets at MIT. What should the crypto community expect of Mr. Gensler as SEC chair?
Continue Reading President Biden’s Nominee for SEC Chairman: What Does It Mean for Crypto?

On October 8, 2020, the Department of Justice’s Cyber-Digital Task Force released an 83-page report entitled “Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework.” The DOJ report highlights many of the legal and enforcement risks posed in the burgeoning crypto marketplace, and includes various enforcement case studies as well as informative graphics.
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Providing additional clarity on the role of an alternative trading system (ATS) in the settlement of digital asset security trades, the staff of the SEC’s Division of Trading and Markets issued a no-action letter to FINRA on September 25, 2020.  In brief, the SEC staff endorsed a three-step settlement process for digital asset securities held in a third-party’s custody if certain customer-protection conditions are met.
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In a recent speech entitled “Reinventing the Wheel (with More Automation)”, Andrew Bailey, Governor and chief executive of the Bank of England, discussed the future of digital currencies. According to Governor Bailey, we have reached the point in the cycle of innovation in payments where it is essential that we set the standards and thus the expectations for how innovation will take effect. It should not, in his opinion, happen the other way round, with the standard setting playing catch up.
Continue Reading Bank of England’s Governor Discusses Digital Currencies