CryptoLaw Newsletter #39

UAE crypto licensing, India crypto ad guidelines, The DAO hacker revealed? Plus our next DeFi regulation interview

Hello everyone,

The UAE is taking its crypto plans one step further, India publishes its crypto ad guidelines, OpenSea’s exploit troubles continue and do we know who hacked The DAO in 2016?

And also: our next episode on DeFi regulation with Sheila Warren is now available on YouTube – check it out!

Digital assets

  • UAE – The UAE reportedly plans to issue federal licenses for virtual asset service providers in an effort to attract crypto companies. VASP licenses can already be obtained for some of the UAE’s free zones, but the new plans would allow VASP licensing across the jurisdiction. (Bloomberg and Pymnts)

  • India – Crypto advertisement guidelines were published by the Advertising Stands Council of India. (Coindesk) Under the new rules, crypto ads must include a warning about the unregulated and „highly risky“ nature of cryptoassets. Certain words (such as ‘custodian’ or ‘securities’) cannot be mentioned in crypto ads, since users may associate these terms with regulated activities. Info about costs must be clear and accurate and crypto ads cannot include returns for periods of less than 12 months. /// The police in Nagpur arrested 11 people allegedly involved in a crypto scam that netted a reported $5.4 million. (Decrypt)

  • Global – Do M&A (mergers & acquisitions) agreements include crypto-specific contractual clauses? This article found 21 publicly available M&A agreements in 2021 that had crypto-related provisions, including: representations & warranties (such on digital asset ownership; on crypto and anti-corruption and on ‘Material Contracts), crypto-specific Material Adverse Effect (MAE) carve-out, interim operating covenants exception to allow certain crypto-related transactions, definitions of ‘Cash’ and ‘Indebtedness’ mentioning crypto and termination provisions relating to Bitcoin prices. If you’re interested in real-life examples, the article provides a few.

  • US (Federal) – Joe Biden’s crypto policy rollout was delayed by a dispute between White House officials and Janet Yellen over the scope of a pending executive order that could include a digital dollar, according to Bloomberg. /// The FBI is launching a new crypto crimes unit. The National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team will use blockchain analytics to uncover criminal behaviour on crypto exchanges, tumblers and mixers, among other things. (FBI) /// A district judge of the Southern District of New York ordered Terra and Do Kwon to comply with subpoenas issued by the SEC last year, regarding synthetic stock tokens. (Decrypt) /// The stock trading ban imposed on enior officials of the Federal Reserve also covers ‘cryptocurrencies’ (digital assets). (Federal Reserve and Decrypt) /// Cryptocurrency use is not „inherently criminal“, according to the US Secret Service, which launched a crypto awareness hub. (Decrypt and US Secret Service)

  • US (State) – California Senate Bill 1275 proposes to authorize state agencies “to accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment for the provision of government services.” (Cointelegraph) /// To attract crypto miners, the states of Illinois and Georgia are considering mining tax incentives. (Coindesk, Illinois bill, Georgia bill)

  • EU – The new AML regulator will reportedly also oversee AML compliance by the crypto industry. (Decrypt)

  • Russia – The central bank continues to call for a ban on crypto mining and trading. The Finance Ministry, however, wants to regulate cryptoassets and allow them to be used for investment purposes but not as payment tools. Although the Finance Ministry said it would take the Bank of Russia’s proposals „into account“, its own proposals suggest KYC obligations and other measures that would contradict the Bank’s anti-crypto stance. (Reuters, Decrypt)

  • Italy – Italy published new AML rules that crypto companies will need to abide by, in line with the EU’s 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive and the Financial Action Task Force’s guidance on AML and virtual asset service providers. (Coindesk)

  • Spain – The central bank approved the country’s first licence to a crypto service provider. Bit2me is now allowed to offer Spanish-based banks a white-label service allowing crypto trading on their platforms. (Coindesk) /// At the same time, the Governor of Bank of Spain wants greater scrutiny over the crypto industry. (Decrypt)

  • Canada – A Ontaria Supreme Court judge ordered the freezing of funds, including crypto assets, related to the Ottawa ‘Freedom Convoys’. In response, the CEOs of crypto exchagnes Coinbase and Kraken tweeted about the importance of self-hosted crypto wallets, criticizing reliance on the Emergencies Act to freeze funding for the truckers’ protest. The Ontario Securities Commission said it shared those tweets with the police. (Decrypt)

  • IsraelBinance halted its activities in Israel, after the Capital Markets Authority asked the crypto exchange to clarify its activities in the country and the licenses it holds. (Coindesk)

  • UK – The police in Manchester found „huge amounts“ of Ether on a USB stick, related to an international crypto scam. More than £4 million was returned to victims. /// Pay your legal bills with crypto? Law firm Gunnercooke now accepts crypto payments for its services.

  • Kazakhstan – Thirteen illicit crypto miners were shut down by the Ministry of Energy. (Cointelegraph)

  • Thailand – The Stock Exchange of Thailand plans to launch a digital exchange in Q2-Q3, focusing on security and utility tokens. (Cointelegraph and Bloomberg)

  • Brazil – The Senate’s economic affairs committee approved a bill regulating crypto transactions, offering a licensing regime to crypto companies but requiring them to submit money laundering reports to the AML regulator. (Coindesk)

  • Law firm – US firm Wachtell Lipton discusses the growing cryptoasset enforcement actions in the US. (Columbia Blue Sky Blog)


Blockchain

  • EU – Industry association INATBA published a joint report with the European Commission on blockchain standardisation. It summarizes discussions of a one-day workshop on the topic, including on standardization initiatives such as ISO TC 307, initiatives by ETSI, CEN-CENELEC and IEEE.


DeFi

  • We released a new episode in our mini-series on DeFi and regulation: we talked to Sheila Warren, who was the head of Data, Blockchain, and Digital Assets and a member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum at the time of the interview. She has meanwhile become the first CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation. We’ll release a transcript and highlights next week, but have a look at the YouTube video if you’re interested in DeFi!

  • Law firm – The SEC’s proposed amendments of ‘exchange’ definition could significantly impact DeFi companies, according to SheppardMulin.


DAOs

  • Remember The DAO, the first DAO that famously got hacked in 2016, with 3.64m ether drained, formed the subject of a widely quoted SEC’s investigative report and led to a controversial Ethereum hard fork? Crypto podcast host and author Laura Shin said she and her team revealed the hacker’s identity: a 36-year old programmer and former CEO of a crypto company. (Forbes)


NFTs

  • US –A Bored Ape owner filed a $1 million lawsuit against NFT platform OpenSea for an exploit that resulted in highly valuable NFTs being sold at a steep discount. OpenSea has so far paid approximately $1.8 million in compensation to some of the affected NFT holders. (Decrypt) /// In a separate incident, NFTs were stolen from OpenSea through what the company identified as phishing attacks unrelated to OpenSea’s platform. OpenSea’s competitor Mintable managed to track and buy three of those NFTs and, in a sneer to OpenSea, said it would return them to the affected OpenSea users. (Decrypt)

  • Academic – „The Growing Popularity of NFTs: How to Protect Your NFT Personal Property Rights,“ by Joshua Durham, published in the Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law. If you want to understand the different IP licenses granted by Larva Labs for the CryptoPunks and Yuga Labs for their Bored Apes, this article lays it all out for you.


CBDC

  • US – A Wyoming bill proposes that the state issue its own USD-backed stablecoin. (Decrypt)

  • Law firm – Debevoise & Plimpton Discusses the Policy Debate over Developing a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency. (Columbia Blue Sky Blog)

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