Securities Token Exchanges Cranking Up in US: BOX +tZero

Lisa Fall, BOX Digital Exchange

Now that crypto cool kids are finally getting the memo: “These are Securities!” ,  the proposed first fully regulated Securities Token Exchange is coming to the US-via the Boston Options Exchange.

tZERO, the digital-themed broker-dealer created by Patrick Byrne and BOX Digital Markets LLC (BOX Digital)-a subsidiary of Boston Options Exchange, announced it has formed a joint venture to launch the industry’s first regulated security token exchange.

Lisa Fall, BOX Digital Exchange

Lisa Fall, Box Digital

On May 18, 2018, the two companies entered into a letter of intent to form an exchange to list and publicly trade security tokens for companies that issue, or convert existing stock to, security tokens. The proposed joint venture would be equally owned by tZERO and BOX Digital, with each having equal representation on the Board of Directors, together with one mutually agreed upon independent director. Lisa Fall, who currently serves as CEO of BOX Digital and as president of BOX Options Exchange LLC, would be the CEO of the joint venture.

“tZERO has proven to be a pioneer in the development and practical use of blockchain technologies for capital markets for a number of years,” said Ms. Fall. “tZERO’s track record and accomplishments in this innovative area, coupled with BOX’s expertise in operating a highly efficient and transparent equity options marketplace, made partnering together an easy decision and we look forward to building a world-class platform for listing and trading security tokens.”

tZERO plans to contribute cash and license tZERO’s blockchain technology for operation of the security token market. BOX Digital will contribute expertise and personnel toward obtaining regulatory approval and operation of the security token market. Approval of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be sought following execution of definitive documentation. Creation of the joint venture is subject to definitive documentation and customary conditions.

“Our partnership with BOX Digital Markets is a significant milestone that will create the first SEC-regulated exchange designed to efficiently trade crypto securities. Lisa Fall’s leadership, reputation and deep experience in the regulated securities exchange industry will be a major asset in achieving this objective,” said Saum Noursalehi, newly appointed CEO of tZERO. “Together, we will continue to work with the SEC as we develop a first-of-its-kind platform that will integrate blockchain capital markets into the current U.S. National Market System.”

According to electronic trading market veteran Jay Berkman, an Advisory Board member of fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners and COO of investor documentation firm Prospectus.com LLC, “Now that pragmatic securities industry thought-leaders have figured out how to package crypto assets within the construct of a security so as to conform to the US regulatory regime, nobody can dispute the fact the genie is out of the bottle .  Added Berkman, “Securities Token Offerings (“STOs”) is a much more palatable approach, making way for a new mantra, “ICOs are dead, long live STOs”, until of course, another shoe drops.”

For the full story from Traders Magazine, click here

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FINRA Has a Facebook Data Breach Problem; Whistleblower

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FINRA, other regulators mishandled brokerage account data. Just like Facebook, Inc.!

If you’ve been on another planet during the past two weeks, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) reported that the company’s data network was hijacked by a “political intelligence” firm posing as an academic researcher and used captured data of 50 million Facebook users to launch a Trump-friendly advertising campaign in the weeks and days leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. We know how that worked out. Well, according to a whistleblower, it appears that US securities industry self regulator FINRA left its back door wide open too.

Per Bloomberg reporting, “..A whistleblower is accusing some key financial regulators of allowing sensitive broker information to become readily accessible, even as industry watchdogs emphasized the need for companies to protect client data.

According to a complaint lodged with the SEC, personal data such as brokerage account numbers provided to an industry-funded regulator have long been easily accessible online. Separately, Social Security numbers and other information meant to be kept private also was made publicly accessible by state regulators for years up until 2015, according to the complaint, which was reviewed by Bloomberg News.

At issue is material on brokers and their firms gathered by FINRA and other regulators to help clients keep tabs on the people handling their money. To spot potential red flags, the SEC encourages investors to search the data that’s housed in the sprawling Central Registration Depository of more than 3,700 broker-dealers and hundreds of thousands of people authorized to work in the securities industry.

Some of that information, which is used in FINRA’s BrokerCheck online portal and passed on to state authorities, has been mishandled, said the whistle-blower who asked not to be identified in discussing the allegations for fear of reprisals.

While both FINRA and the North American Securities Administrators Association acknowledged past problems in a response to questions from Bloomberg News, they dispute any contention that they’ve been negligent in efforts to clean-up the disclosures.

The issues shed light on the massive back-office systems maintained by regulators and the difficulty of keeping the sensitive information in them private. There is so much data that FINRA has a team of more than 30 people who review filings and runs hundreds of automated queries to look for information that shouldn’t be made public.

“They’re sitting on top of an even larger amount of private data than the firms they regulate,” said Donald Langevoort, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington. “There is an immense amount of cynicism about the ability of any institution public or private to do a good job at safeguarding privacy.”

Concern over financial regulators’ ability to safeguard data led to congressional hearings last year after the SEC revealed that hackers broke into its corporate filing system and accessed two people’s names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. That disclosure followed a massive breach at Equifax that may have led to the theft of personal data on about 150 million Americans.

If you are advancing a private placement offering, please reach out to Prospectus.com LLC via this link

SEC Cyber Unit Brings First ICO Fraud Charge

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ICO Fraud Charge is the First, Certainly Not Last as Initial Coin Offerings No Longer Under Regulators’ Radar

(Courtesy of RTTNews) – The Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday that its new cyber unit has obtained an emergency asset freeze to halt an Initial Coin Offering or ICO fraud.

The SEC noted that the ICO fraud, advanced by “PlexCorps” owned by a mysterious shell company known as DL Innov Inc., which is operated by Canadian resident Dominic Lacroix and Sabrinia Paradis-Royer raised up to $15 million from thousands of investors since August by falsely promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month.

These charges are the first to be filed by SEC’s cyber unit, which was created in September 2017.

The SEC’s complaint was filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. The complaint alleges that Lacroix and PlexCorps marketed and sold securities called PlexCoin on the Internet to investors in the U.S. and elsewhere by claiming that investments in PlexCoin would yield a 1,354 percent profit in less than 29 days.

Based on its filing, the SEC obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of PlexCorps, Lacroix, and Paradis-Royer. These charges are the first to be filed by SEC’s cyber unit.

The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement plus interest and penalties. In addition, the SEC is seeking an officer-and-director bar for Lacroix, and a bar from offering digital securities against Lacroix as well as Paradis-Royer.

Issuers of Initial Coin Offerings: Don’t Get Caught Short By Failing to Follow the Spirit of Securities Regulations. Industry experts at Prospectus.com can provide sage guidance for staying inside the regulatory goal posts and prepare investor offering documents that conform with the spirit of the regulatory regimes governing ICO initiatives.

The SEC’s cyber unit was created in September to focus on misconduct involving distributed ledger technology and initial coin offerings, the spread of false information through electronic and social media, and hacking as well as threats to trading platforms.

“This first Cyber Unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing. We acted quickly to protect retail investors from this initial coin offering’s false promises,” said Robert Cohen, Chief of the Cyber Unit.

In August, the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy issued an Investor Alert warning investors about scams of companies claiming to be engaging in initial coin offerings.

BrokerDealer.com expresses thanks to RTT News for the coverage content. For the full article from RTTNews.com, please click here

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Private Placement Offering Memorandum Experts: Over-Subscribed!

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Private Placement Offerings Surge as Demand for Offering Memorandum Document Experts Follows Along

Whether due to improving economic conditions in the US as well as various other parts of the world, or due to technology advancements that serve as the catalyst to innovative products and services that solve legacy business challenges, the global private placement marketplace is surging. With this new era of entrepreneurship, the need for investor offering memorandum experts is likewise cascading. In Wall Street parlance, the demand for such experts is nearly “over-subscribed,” meaning the supply of capable professionals who specialize in preparing fully-compliant investor offering documents is being stretched thin. But, at least one firm within the professional services sector is addressing the investor documentation needs of forward-thinking business enterprises and they are situated neatly within the “curl of the wave”-all you need to find them is a search engine and the right key words/phrases.

Operating under the web banner OfferingMemorandum.com, the firm behind this portal is NY-based Broker Dealer LLC and with footprints in various cities across the global financial services ecosystem, they are leading the pack by making it simple and easy for broker-dealers*, captive business advisors and corporate lawyers for companies of any size and located in nearly every geographic location of the world to engage local securities law professionals and investor offering document experts who specialize in preparing preliminary offering memorandums, red herrings and final offering prospectus documents that conform to financial industry best practices and comply with local regulatory guidelines that govern investor solicitations. (*For various reasons, registered broker-dealers do not prepare the investor offering memorandum or an offering prospectus, and it is therefore incumbent on the Issuer to provide the investor offering documents.)

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Ryan Gorman, Prospectus.com

According to Ryan Gorman, a PR-IR-Corporate Communications expert who works with many startup companies, “While some capital markets  professionals will attribute the continued spike in private placement issuance to the ‘Trump Bump”,others will credit the evolution of the JOBS Act [the US legislation spearheaded by former President Obama intended to make the regulatory steps more simple for small companies in the US to raise capital], global macro gurus point to the rising economic tides in various regions of the globe. That said, nobody disputes the number of new companies and latter-stage funding initiatives for small, medium and large companies remains in an unobstructed uptrend.

Private Placement offerings are surging and direct IPOs are gathering steam. But, for those seeking to raise capital for a start-up or to fuel expansion for a fast-growing business, any entrepreneur worth his salt knows their first step is preparing a cogent business plan, then consolidating that blueprint into a short-form ‘pitch deck’ and once prospective investors have expressed interest in the investment opportunity, the enterprise seeking capital (aka “Issuer”) provides the investor with an offering memorandum or an offering prospectus. Simple as this process might sound, offering memorandum preparation is non-trivial and is typically performed by securities attorneys who specialize in investor offering documents. Also known as an “OM”, the offering memorandum is perhaps the most critical document, as it frames the terms and conditions of the investment, and when prepared within the context of best practices, the offering memorandum is the document that both Issuer and Investor can hang their hats on. Somewhere in the mix, the enterprise that seeks funding (also known as the Issuer) might engage a registered broker-dealer to serve as a placement-agent aka underwriter for the financing round, or the Issuer may already have identified investors and has determined there is no need to engage a broker-dealer

*Registered broker-dealers generally serve as a placement agent or underwriter for a capital raise, but typically defer to the Issuer to provide them with the investor offering documents, as such it is the obligation of the Issuer or their corporate counsel to create an offering memorandum or a prospectus. In most instances the Issuer will engage their law firm to prepare these documents, and increasingly, law firms that do not have a securities law practice will outsource or sub-contract to firms that dedicated to this type of work. As the number of private placement offerings and direct IPOs via Regulation A+ continues to grow, portals such as OfferingMemorandum.com and Prospectus.com provide a unique solution.

US SEC Brings in Top Gun Lawyer to Promote IPOs, Expand JOBS Act

hinman-sec-ipo-offering

May 15–The US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), following policy goals advanced by the Trump administration, is sharpening its focus on encouraging private companies to go public via IPOs. Towards that effort, veteran Silicon Valley tech deal lawyer Bill Hinman, a former partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has guided the likes of among others, Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL), Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Facebook Inc (NYSE:FB)  has been appointed Director of the SEC’s Corporation Finance division; the unit that oversees initial public offerings.  SEC Commissioner  Jay Clayton, who has called for scaling back requirements on listed firms and argued the government should make it “more attractive” to go public and according to Clayton, “Bill Hinman is the ideal man for the job.”

The top Corporation Finance Division post will be crucial because of the unit’s role in writing rules that govern public and private capital-raising.

In an interview, Mr. Hinman said “spurring more public offerings is a worthy goal of regulators, because investors benefit from the detailed public disclosures.” Hinman has also voiced his view towards further expanding the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act. The law, also known as the JOBS Act, passed with bipartisan support and was hailed as the first sign that Washington understood how the internet could be used to help smaller companies raise money without turning to Wall Street.

“To the extent the SEC can make it more attractive and efficient to raise capital here, we are going to want to do that,” he said. “That is our primary focus and challenge going forward.”

Companies raised $2.1 trillion in private placements of stocks and bonds in 2014, compared with about $1.35 trillion for public sales of equity and debt, according to SEC figures. The decline in U.S. public listings has happened as fast-growing startups such as Uber Technologies Inc. and other “unicorns” have been able to get the cash they need from venture capitalists.

However much deal makers have lauded the SEC’s new-found resolve to promote public offerings, some market participants say they don’t see the problem that Mr. Clayton has said he wants to solve. “The real question is do small-growth companies have access to capital, and they do,” according to Robin Graham, managing director and head of technology, media and communications at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. “It’s just in the private markets.”

According to Samuel Goldberg, a senior partner at Prospectus.com, a firm that specializes in business plan writing, feasibility studies and the preparation of investor offering documents and guiding private companies throughout the course of both private placements and public capital raising initiatives, “Public markets are ultimately the holy grail for start-up companies; easing the complexities of public listing can prove helpful for those who have private investors seeking exit strategies and enabling share Issuers to attract a new and much broader universe of investors.”

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