Online Platforms that Facilitate Trading in ICO Tokens are Not Registered Exchanges
There are no ICO platforms currently registered as exchanges. Further, the SEC has stated that it neither regulates these platforms as exchanges nor reviews the digital assets that may be listed or traded on these platforms. Many fraudulent platforms refer to themselves as exchanges to provide a sense of legitimacy and make investors assume they are regulated entities or meet the regulatory requirements and standards of a national securities exchange.
Digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, as well as other crypto coins and tokens, may be offered to investors in the form of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). But what is an ICO? And why are they such a regulatory hot topic in the securities industry currently?
As I’m sure you already know from reading our previous blogs on the subject, FINRA Rule 3110(e) (Responsibility of Member to Investigate Applicants for Registration) requires that member firms must “ascertain by investigation the good character, business reputation, qualifications, and experience of an applicant” prior to submitting a Form U4 and requesting to associate and register such an applicant with the firm. However, as recently announced, FINRA has made enhancements to its disclosure review process that will make this verification easier than ever. Such enhancements will allow member firms to rely upon FINRA’s verification process for purposes of compliance with the requirement to conduct a search of public records relating to bankruptcies, judgments and liens.
Firms with more than $100 million in regulatory AUM (Large Advisers) must register with the SEC unless an exemption is available. Advisers with between $100 million and $150 million AUM solely attributable to private funds are exempt under the private fund adviser exemption, as described above. Advisers with over $150 million AUM must register with the SEC.
Cryptocurrency (also spelled crypto currency) is everyone’s new favorite hot topic. Even if you’ve done no research into the topic, you’ve probably heard of the most (in)famous cryptocurrency: Bitcoin. But what are cryptocurrencies? And how are they affecting the securities industry?
Since our last post about Form U10, FINRA has implemented the Test Enrollment Services System (TESS). Beginning in June 2017, FINRA began transitioning all non-U4 examination enrollments to TESS and ended the utilization of the Form U10.
Cybersecurity programs remain a significant priority for financial services industry regulators, including the SEC, FINRA, and state securities regulatory agencies. As mentioned in FINRA’s 2018 Annual Regulatory and Examination Priorities Letter, member firms need to have cybersecurity programs in place and such programs must capable of protecting sensitive information, including personally identifiable information of clients, from both internal and external threats. Over the past couple of years, awareness of cybersecurity risk has increased dramatically. However, as awareness increases, so does the sophistication of cybersecurity threats. And even a robust cybersecurity program can be compromised by something as simple as an employee opening an email attachment that contains malware. So, what can a firm do to combat phishing and spearphishing attacks, ransomware attacks, fraudulent third-party wires, etc.?
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