SEC vs. Consensys: Understanding the Statutory Backbone of Securities Regulation

9 Jul 2024

SEC v. Consensys Software Inc. Court Filing, retrieved on June 28, 2024, is part of HackerNoon’s Legal PDF Series. You can jump to any part in this filing here. This part is 6 of 26.

24. The Securities Act and the Exchange Act “form the backbone of American securities laws.” Slack Tech., LLC v. Pirani, 598 U.S. 759, 762 (2023). These acts define “security” broadly, to include a wide range of assets, including “investment contracts.” [15 U.S.C. §§ 77b(a), 78c(a)(10)].

25. Investment contracts are instruments through which a person invests money in a common enterprise and reasonably expects profits derived from the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others.

26. Congress defined “security” broadly to embody a “flexible rather than a static principle, one that is capable of adaptation to meet the countless and variable schemes devised by those who seek the use of the money of others on the promise of profits.” SEC v. W.J. Howey Co., 328 U.S. 293, 299 (1946).

i. Registration of Securities Offerings

27. Congress enacted the Securities Act in part to regulate the offer and sale of securities.

28. Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. §§ 77e(a) and (c)] require registration of offers and sales of securities with the SEC.

29. Registration is intended to assure that the persons offering or selling the securities give the investing public required information about the issuer, the securities, and the transaction. With that information, investors can then make more informed investment decisions.

ii. Registration of Brokers

30. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. § 78c(a)(4)] defines “broker” generally as “any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others.”

31. Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. § 78c(a)(4)] generally requires brokers to register with the SEC, and a broker must also become a member of one or more “self-regulatory organizations” (“SROs”), which, in turn, require members to adhere to rules governing the SRO’s members’ activities.

32. The regulatory regime applicable to brokers is a cornerstone of the federal securities laws and provides important safeguards to investors and market participants. Registered brokers are subject to comprehensive regulation and rules that include recordkeeping and reporting obligations, SEC and SRO examinations, and general and specific requirements aimed at addressing certain conflicts of interest, among other things. All of these rules and regulations are critical to the soundness of the national securities markets and to protecting investors in the public markets who interact with brokers and invest in securities.

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