On September 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued an Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risks for Facilitating Ransomware Payments on the sanctions risks associated with facilitating ransomware payments. OFAC, with assistance from the FBI, also designated SUEX OTC, S.R.O., as a malicious cyber actor, the first such sanctions designation against a virtual currency exchange.
Continue Reading OFAC Designates Virtual Currency Exchange as Malicious Cyber Actor

The National Credit Union Administration recently published a request for information in the Federal Register that encourages credit unions and other industry participants to provide information on the current and potential impact of digital assets and related technologies on federal credit unions.
Continue Reading NCUA Seeks Information on Distributed Ledger Technology and Digital Assets

On July 20, 2021, New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General announced that the State’s Bureau of Securities issued a Summary Cease and Desist Order to stop BlockFi, Inc. from selling unregistered securities in the form of interest-bearing cryptocurrency accounts. While commentators frequently focus on the enforcement activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the crypto space, New Jersey’s action against DeFi platform BlockFi serves as a reminder that state securities regulators also actively police this marketplace.
Continue Reading New Jersey Orders DeFi Platform to Cease Offering Interest-Bearing Crypto Accounts

Mark Alexander Hopkins, known as “Doctor Bitcoin,” pled guilty in the Northern District of Texas on June 29, 2021, to illegally operating a cash-to-cryptocurrency conversion business. According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Hopkins pled guilty to one count of operation of an unlicensed money transmitter business.
Continue Reading “Doctor Bitcoin” Pleads Guilty to Illegal Crypto Conversion Scheme

On June 10, 2021, the Texas Department of Banking issued an industry notice addressing the authority of Texas state-chartered banks to provide virtual currency services to customers. This is a notable development as Texas has the most state-chartered banks of any state in the country.
Continue Reading Texas Department of Banking Clarifies Authority of State Banks to Provide Virtual Currency Custody Services

On May 11, 2021, staff in the Division of Investment Management (IM) at the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a statement (the Statement) on “Funds Registered Under the Investment Company Act Investing in the Bitcoin Futures Market.” The Statement provides a series of warnings to retail investors about certain risks associated with investments in registered mutual funds whose portfolios include Bitcoin futures. But the Statement also provides further insight into the way SEC staff analyze the market for Bitcoin Futures more broadly.
Continue Reading SEC Staff Issues Statement on Bitcoin Futures

Texas is seeing considerable momentum with respect to a proposed digital asset law that is being considered in the 2021 legislative session in the form of House Bill 4474. In short, the Texas Virtual Currency Bill provides a basic legal framework for companies dealing with virtual currencies.
Continue Reading Texas Legislature Proposes Significant Virtual Currency Bill

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.”
Continue Reading Treasury Secretary Skeptical of Bitcoin