SYK Attorney Darlene Pasieczny to Moderate “Hybrid Advisers” Panel

Darlene Pasieczny will moderate “Hybrid Advisers” panel, Tuesday October 9th. They will be exploring issues in regulation and customer dispute resolution when a culpable financial adviser “wears two hats” as both a FINRA‐licensed broker and SEC‐licensed registered investment adviser. When is the brokerage firm responsible for conduct by its dual‐registered associated person? How do FINRA and the SEC parse enforcement issues for these hybrid advisers? The panel will discuss trends in customer arbitration cases, recent case law decisions, compliance and enforcement.

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Investor Alert – NASAA and SEC Warn about Cryptocurrency Related Investments

On January 4th, the same day I posted about a recent FINRA Investor Alert regarding cryptocurrency, there was a new press release from the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) with further guidance on the same topic. NASAA’s analysis and warning amounts to this: Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), and all other investment products related to cryptocurrency or the blockchain, pose a threat to investors.

“A NASAA survey of state and provincial securities regulators shows 94 percent believe there is a ‘high risk of fraud’ involving cryptocurrencies. Regulators also were unanimous in their view that more regulation is needed for cryptocurrency to provide greater investor protection.”

The same day, the SEC made a public statement from Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Kara M. Stein and Michael S. Piwowar, in wholehearted agreement with NASAA: “The NASAA release also reminds investors that when they are offered and sold securities they are entitled to the benefits of state and federal securities laws, and that sellers and other market participants must follow these laws. Unfortunately, it is clear that many promoters of ICOs and others participating in the cryptocurrency – related investment markets are not following these laws. The SEC and state securities regulators are pursuing violations, but we again caution you that, if you lose money, there is a substantial risk that our efforts will not result in a recovery of your investment.”

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Australian Court Accepts Unsent Text Message as Dead Man’s Will

A court in Queensland, Australia accepted an unsent text message on a dead man’s phone as his valid will. In the text message the married man left everything he had to his brother and nephew before taking his own life. The court allowed the draft text message to act as a valid will because the wording in the text indicated that the man intended it to act as his will.

Formal will requirements in Queensland require that a valid will be in writing and signed by two witnesses, however the law was changed in 2006 to allow informal types of documents to be considered wills. Under the 2006 changes, the Supreme Court of Queensland may recognize a document as being a will if the court is satisfied that the decedent intended the document to be his will even if the document lacked will formalities.

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Bitcoin – Is It Really Money?

Recently, a Florida judge dismissed a money laundering charge against a man who sold $2,000 worth of bitcoin to an undercover agent who claimed he was using the bitcoin to purchase stolen credit card numbers. The judge held that bitcoin is not money and therefore it does not fall within Florida’s money laundering statute. While leaving the door wide open for the Florida legislature to regulate bitcoin and other virtual currency, the judge says that trying to regulate bitcoin using a statutory scheme regulating money is “like fitting a square peg in a round hole.”

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Oregon First to Pass RUFADAA – Allowing Legal Access to Your Digital Assets

SYK has been advising our clients, friends and colleagues about managing Digital Assets (your online accounts) for many years, lamenting the fact that the internet was outrunning the law. We’ve been writing about it, testifying before legislators, speaking at seminars and encouraging everyone to prepare a VAIL – Virtual Asset Instruction Letter.

We are happy to report that there is new light on the issue. Oregon has just become the first state in the union to pass RUFADAA: The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Accounts Act. Oregon Senate Bill 1554 was signed by the Governor yesterday and will become effective January 1, 2017.

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