The SEC suffered a significant loss last week in its ongoing legal battle with Ripple over the XRP digital token. While the District Court held that Ripple’s initial sales of XRP to institutional investors constituted the sale of unregistered securities, it was a Pyrrhic victory as the court held
In a post-FTX environment, several financial regulators are taking action to emphasize a policy of sound custody and disclosure practices and to better understand certain risks to protect customers in the event of an insolvency or similar proceeding. For example, back in January 2023, the New York Department of Financial Services announced that it had issued certain Guidance on Custodial Structures for Customer Protection in the Event of Insolvency in which it highlighted the significance of consumer protection upon insolvency or similar proceeding. And in February 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) proposed amendments to the Custody Rule under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which, among other changes, clarified aspects of the existing rule and expanded its application to a broader array of client assets managed by registered investment advisers.
This past month, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) acted to ensure proper risk management within the derivatives markets in relation to, among other things, digital assets, by issuing two separate releases: (1) a proposed rulemaking on potential amendments to certain Risk Management Program (“RMP”) requirements applicable to swap dealers (“SDs”), major swap participants (“MSPs”), and futures commission merchants (“FCMs”); and (2) an advisory letter reminding derivatives clearing organization (“DCO”) registrants and DCO applicants about compliance obligations when expanding the types of products cleared and services offered by DCOs, including those related to digital assets. The CFTC stated that re-evaluating its risk management rules is necessary to keep pace with evolving markets that can give rise to new risks from emerging technologies such as digital assets and artificial intelligence.
The gloves are off. The SEC’s recent enforcement actions against leading crypto exchanges suggest that the SEC has decided that time’s up for the crypto industry as it currently exists in the United States.
After spending years urging industry participants to come in and register, the SEC has made clear,…
On 8 June 2023, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) published a policy statement (PS23/6) on the financial promotion rules for cryptoassets (the “Policy Statement”). This is accompanied by a guidance consultation (GC23/1), where the FCA is seeking feedback on proposed guidance to the Policy Statement.
As discussed in Part I of this series, state DAO LLC laws have been enacted in the last several years and have become one option for decentralized autonomous organizations (or DAOs) to create a so-called “legal wrapper” or real-world corporate entity to shield individual members from liability.
In Part II we will look at some of the standout features of the United States’ DAO laws.
DAOs as LLCs, or LLDs. As discussed below, the Wyoming (SF0038, codified at W.S. §17‑31‑101 through §17‑31‑116; Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon signed an amendment to the DAO Supplement into law (SF0068) (the DAO Supplement and its 2022 amendments) (collectively, the “WY Law”) and Tennessee (HB2645/SB2854, to be codified at Tenn. Code Ann. §48-250-101 through 48-250-115) (the “TN Law”), DAO LLC laws opt for the “wrapper” approach by “wrapping” DAOs within an LLC. Utah, however, goes further. Under the “Utah Decentralized Autonomous Organizations Act” (HB 357) (codified at Utah Code Ann. §48-5-101 – 406) (the “Utah Law”), rather than being wrapped by an LLC, limited liability decentralized autonomous organizations (or “LLDs”) are the legal entity formed under the Utah Law. (Utah Code Ann. §48-5-104). Under the Utah Law, LLD members enjoy limited liability and are only liable for the on-chain contributions that the member has committed to the DAO. (Utah Code Ann. §48-5-202). Further, members cannot be held personally liable for any excess liability after the DAO assets have been exhausted. (Utah Code Ann. §48-5-202(1)(b)). Utah further covers situations when a DAO refuses to comply with an enforceable judgment or order against the DAO by stating that members who voted against using the DAO’s treasury to satisfy a judgment may be liable for any monetary payments in the judgment or order “in proportion to the member’s share of governance rights in the [DAO].” (Utah Code Ann. §48-5-202(d)(2)). The Utah Law, in another effort to foreclose certain theories of liability, also explicitly states that a developer, member, participant or legal representative of a DAO may not be imputed to have fiduciary duties toward each other or third parties solely on account on their role, absent certain express actions or statements. (Utah Code Ann. §48-5-307). These questions have been more salient for DAO members, given the ongoing CFTC enforcement against the Ooki DAO and the recent California district court ruling that various governance token holders in a DAO could be deemed to be members of a “general partnership” under California law and thus potentially joint and severally liable in the suit.
Little-known legal trivia: In 1977 Wyoming was the first state to pioneer the LLC, which is now a commonly applied legal innovation. Fast forward more than forty years…in July 2021, Wyoming again tried to be at the vanguard of new corporate formations and passed legislation that recognized decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, as legally distinct business entities, with protections for token holders similar to those offered to corporation stockholders or limited liability company members. Wyoming may have jumped off the blocks first, but Tennessee and Utah are not far behind. Recently, on March 1, 2023, the Utah Legislature passed HB 357 (codified at Utah Code Ann. §48-5-101-406), the “Utah Decentralized Autonomous Organizations Act” (the “Utah Law”).
This article is Part I of a two-part article on developments in state DAO LLC laws. In this part, we will briefly outline the basics of a DAO and the latest state enactments in the area, as well as explain why real-world corporate formations may be attractive for some DAO members. In Part II, we will do a deep dive into the more notable aspects of the new crop of state DAO LLC laws and offer some final thoughts.
This blog post summarizes recent federal bills that have been introduced (but not yet passed), proposals by the Biden Administration, and guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service with respect to the taxation of digital assets.