In a criminal case in Brooklyn, New York, a federal court has been asked to decide for the first time whether tokens or coins issued through an initial coin offering constitute “securities” under U.S. securities laws.
On September 29, 2017 the SEC filed a civil complaint against Maksim Zaslavskiy, alleging that he had committed securities fraud and sold “illegal unregistered securities.” The instruments at issue were tokens that Zaslavskiy allegedly sold to the public through initial coin offerings of his companies RECoin Group Foundation LLC and DRC World, Inc. The lawsuit followed an investigation that apparently took less than 90 days to conduct, and that involved reviewing social media and online postings. The investigation appears to have been conducted parallel with a criminal investigation by the FBI, and a criminal complaint was filed 28 days after the SEC complaint. The SEC case was stayed pending resolution of the criminal case.