Blockchain and the Law

Category Archives: Cryptocurrencies

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The Merge Is Upon Us: What It Means for Ethereum

As of this writing, the Ethereum “Merge,” one of the most anticipated events in blockchain history, is finally expected to occur in September 2022. The “Merge” will shift the Ethereum blockchain (native token ETH, or ether) from a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism that uses over 99.9% less energy. Technically, … Continue Reading

New York Financial Regulator Brings First AML and Cybersecurity Enforcement Action against Licensed Crypto Trading Entity

In what is the New York Department of Financial Services’ (NYDFS) first enforcement action against a NYDFS-licensed “virtual currency business,” on August 1, 2022, the agency announced $30 million settlement with cryptocurrency investing platform Robinhood Crypto, LLC (“RHC”).  The settlement addressed  charges stemming from what the NYDFS cited as various deficiencies during 2019-20 of RHC’s … Continue Reading

The Other Side of The Coin: Cryptocurrency Assets in Bankruptcy

On July 5, 2022, cryptocurrency brokerage Voyager Digital filed for chapter 11 in the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court, citing a short-term “run on the bank” due to the “crypto winter” in the cryptocurrency industry generally and the default of a significant loan made to a third party as the reasons for its … Continue Reading

ESG Issues and Opportunities Arise as Companies and Asset Managers Hone in on Blockchain-Based Technology Investments

Beyond the wider adoption of cryptocurrencies by consumers in recent years, companies and organizations have also shown increased interest in crypto-assets in the past year. A myriad of industries, from sports to fashion to art to videogames to music, are entering NFTs, which, depending on the marketplace, may be minted on a PoW or PoS … Continue Reading

New York Financial Regulator Publishes Stablecoin Guidance

There have been a number of developments swirling around stablecoins in the past month, including, earlier this week, the recent introduction in the U.S. Senate of a bill (the “Responsible Financial Innovation Act”) that would put in place a regulatory framework for digital assets and enact certain requirements and consumer protections surrounding stablecoins. The topic … Continue Reading

From Cryptic to (Some) Clarity: English Law and Policy Rising to the Challenge of Cryptoassets (Part 3)

In the first two instalments of our series we examined the progress of English law to provide a secure and certain legal infrastructure for cryptoasset investment and management. In particular, we looked at how recent English case law has addressed the following questions: (1) Are cryptoassets property and (2) Can cryptoassets be held on trust? … Continue Reading

From Cryptic to (Some) Clarity: English Law and Policy Rising to the Challenge of Cryptoassets (Part 2)

In the first part of this series of articles, we examined the progress of English law to shape and build an infrastructure to support the development of a secure and certain environment for investment in digital assets. We considered how recent English case law has addressed the questions of whether cryptoassets are property, and whether … Continue Reading

Biden Administration Proposes Changes to the Taxation of Cryptocurrency Transactions

On March 28, 2022, the Biden Administration proposed certain very limited changes to the taxation of cryptocurrency transactions. The proposals do not change the current treatment of cryptocurrency as property for federal income tax purposes, and do not address any of the fundamental tax issues that cryptocurrency raise. Read the full post on our Tax … Continue Reading

From Cryptic to (Some) Clarity: English Law and Policy Rising to the Challenge of Cryptoassets (Part 1)

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Master of the Rolls, wants English law to be at the forefront of developments relating to cryptoassets and smart contracts. In his thought-provoking foreword to the government-backed UK Jurisdictional Taskforce’s (UKJT) Legal Statement on Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts, he explained that English law should aim to provide “much needed market confidence, … Continue Reading

European Central Bank Executive Board Member Decries “Crypto Gamble” and Echoing SEC Chair Gensler, Calls for Regulation of the “New Wild West” of Crypto-Assets

In a speech given this week at Columbia University by Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), he decried the entire “crypto gamble,” seeing crypto-assets as “bringing about instability and insecurity – the exact opposite of what they promised” and calling for tighter regulation in the EU (and coordination … Continue Reading

Can We Pay Our Employees in Cryptocurrency? A 2022 Update.

As cryptocurrencies continue to make their way into mainstream consciousness, individuals—even beyond those in the tech sector—have been interested in receiving their pay (or a part of it) in cryptocurrency.  This has prompted an increasing number of employers to consider, compensating their employees with Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies.  While a cryptocurrency compensation scheme may … Continue Reading

As Regulators Double Click on Crypto, CBDC and Stablecoins Remain Favorites

Back in January, the U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (the “Federal Reserve”) released its long-awaited discussion paper, “Money and Payments: The U.S. Dollar in the Age of Digital Transformation” (the “Report”), beginning a public dialogue about central bank digital currencies (“CBDCs”) and weighing the merits of a U.S. CBDC. For the purposes … Continue Reading

Cryptocurrency in 401(k) Plans? Might be More Like “Crypto-nite,” Says the DOL in Its Latest Release

Kryptonite is a fictional substance that causes the mighty Superman to lose all his strength. According to a recent release from the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration (“DOL”), cryptocurrency might carry similar dangers for otherwise strong and healthy 401(k) plan accounts. That is, in DOL’s view, the benefits of cryptocurrency in 401(k) … Continue Reading

Congress and the IRS Make Moves to Improve Taxpayer Compliance for Cryptocurrency Transactions

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, testifying before Congress in April 2021, estimated the gap between taxes owed and taxes collected in the United States to be close to $1 trillion.  While there is some debate as to how much lax reporting on cryptocurrency transactions contributes to this so-called “tax gap,” with a market capitalization hovering at … Continue Reading

Decentralized Finance: The Next Frontier of SEC Enforcement

The SEC’s push to regulate the next generation of blockchain-based applications will likely give rise to disputes and enforcement actions, particularly in the developing decentralized finance (DeFi) space. Although DeFi has the potential to enhance or replace traditional financial products by speeding execution and reducing transaction costs using blockchain technology, the SEC presumes that actors … Continue Reading

House Committee Hearing Explores Cryptocurrency Energy Use, Bringing to Mind ESG Issues and Opportunities

On January 20, 2022, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce (the “Committee”) held a hearing on the energy consumption associated with cryptocurrency activity. In announcing the hearing on January 12, 2022, Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Oversight and Investigations Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) stated: “In just a few short years, cryptocurrency has … Continue Reading

Crypto Chaos: EthereumMax Executives, Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Paul Pierce Sued in Cryptocurrency Advertising Class Action

Cryptocurrency, social media, and celebrity or influencer endorsements have all been top of mind recently, including for advertisers. A newly filed lawsuit is asking a federal court to consider the intersection of these areas, with potential implications for advertisers looking to expand into the cryptocurrency space. EthereumMax executives (“Executive Defendants”) and a few well-known celebrities, … Continue Reading

UK Financial Conduct Authority Consults on Its Financial Promotion Rules for Cryptoassets and Other High-Risk Investments

On 19 January 2022, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) published a consultation paper (CP22/2) (the “Consultation”) setting out its proposals to strengthen its financial promotion rules for high-risk investments (including cryptoassets), as well as for authorised firms which approve and communicate such financial promotions. The Consultation builds on feedback received to its discussion paper … Continue Reading

Ringing in the New Year: Regulators and Industry Seek to Bring Stability to Stablecoins in 2022. How (Much), Remains a Question.

On December 17, 2021, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) – a collaborative body formed under the Dodd-Frank Act composed of state and federal regulators and tasked with identifying risks and responding to emerging threats to financial stability – released its 2021 Annual Report (the “Report”). In the Report, the FSOC offered wide-ranging insight into … Continue Reading

In the Coming ‘Metaverse’, There May Be Excitement but There Certainly Will Be Legal Issues

The concept of the “metaverse” has garnered much press coverage of late, addressing such topics as the new appetite for metaverse investment opportunities, a recent virtual land boom, or just the promise of it all, where “crypto, gaming and capitalism collide.”  The term “metaverse,” which comes from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash,” is generally used … Continue Reading

Treasury Department Steps Up Its Counter-Ransomware Efforts and Simultaneously Issues New Sanctions Compliance Guidance for Virtual Currency Industry

Recently, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department, released a report on ransomware trends stating that during the first half of 2021, 68 different ransomware variants extracted approximately $600 million from victims across the country. FinCEN identified Bitcoin as the most common ransomware-related payment method in reported transactions and … Continue Reading

DOJ Tax Division Shows Sustained Interest in Cryptocurrency

On May 5, 2021, another federal district court, this time for the Northern District of California, permitted the IRS to proceed with a John Doe summons very similar to the one served on Circle last month (the subject of a recent post).  This time, the Summons seeks information on customers of a San Francisco-headquartered digital currency … Continue Reading

A Warning to Cryptocurrency Users from the Justice Department’s Tax Division

As you might expect during tax season, the Justice Department’s press releases seem particularly focused on tax-related issues these days.  At the start of this month, DOJ sent a stern reminder to the public that non-traditional currency users should not expect to escape federal tax law enforcement. Read the full blog post on Proskauer’s Corporate Defense blog.… Continue Reading

Antitrust Enforcers Preview Incoming Spotlight on Blockchain

The tide of regulation of cryptocurrency and blockchain could be turning in the United States. Following comments by newly-confirmed Treasury Secretary (and former Federal Reserve Chair) Janet Yellen describing Bitcoin as “inefficient” and “extremely volatile,” the price of the coin dropped 10% in 24 hours. During her confirmation hearings, Yellen described cryptocurrencies as a “particular concern” and … Continue Reading
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