Crypto-assets global corporate finance transactions: A comparative and functional analysis of crypto offerings and securities laws

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SINGULAB, Feb 11, 2019 - Law - 211 pages
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The rise of crypto-assets and crypto-assets corporate finance transactions – like Initial Coin Offerings, Security Token Offerings, Initial Exchange Offerings, and respective variants – are disrupting the way companies raise funds. At the same time the sudden rise of crypto finance transactions has created unprecedented challenges for regulators, financial market authorities, corporate finance lawyers and professionals.

Crypto-assets corporate finance transactions are essentially borderless, global and interconnected. Their borderless nature was the core inspiration of this work. This book, indeed, is an attempt to address to a comparative and functional analysis of crypto-assets corporate finance transactions.

I believe it’s neutral, international, functional and short.

It’s neutral because while it’s true that the variety of crypto-assets necessitates a case-by-case analysis, it’s unquestionable that some types and hybrid forms of crypto-assets fall within existing securities laws and regulations. Securities offerings, however, are highly regulated in most developed jurisdictions, while, by contrast, the rapid rise of these crypto-assets corporate finance transactions is very likely nothing else than a mere market response to overregulation. It has to be noted that: (i) regulations should be technologically neutral, and in order to become so, address the actors and not the products themselves; (ii) far too often (non-accredited, non-qualified, non-sophisticated) investors are denied the opportunity to invest in new and promising technologies and in new companies — all which undermine productive capital formation and economic growth; (iii) crypto finance transactions are part of a self-contained system and this unique context requires to carefully weigh competing goals – protecting investors (that can lead to a larger and healthier crypto finance environment) while promoting capital raising and economic liberty. This is why these crypto-assets should be treated as a new type of asset whose use – currently falling within existing regulations – should be governed by new and ad hoc regulations, above all in the securities field, in order not to disregard their unique operational and technological features. Existing securities rules and best practices are frequently nonsensical or even counterproductive in the context of many crypto finance transactions. Regulation is certainly necessary to allow crypto-assets and crypto- assets corporate finance transactions to achieve their potential, but the regulatory system should have an appropriate balance and a high degree of clarity. I believe, however, optimal regulatory structures will emerge and converge over time. The final part of the book, then, sketches some proposals for regulators – based on a weighted approach – that, if adopted, would enhance legal certainty and seek to balance support for innovation and investor protection.

It’s international because it contains summary information on the securities law regimes in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, EU / EAA (Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom), Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United States, including the principal prospectus exemptions and private placements rules in each jurisdiction. Securities offerings are highly regulated and significant civil and criminal penalties can be incurred as a result of offerings which are not authorized by the relevant authorities or compliant with the applicable securities regime. There are good reasons why similar measures have arisen in the wider corporate world over time – to ensure a sustainable ecosystem with resources directed at better quality projects, to ensure that bad actors are (to the extent possible) eliminated, and to ensure that legal and professional risks are mitigated by a better balance between the interests of all stakeholders. This is why crypto-assets corporate finance transactions falling within existing securities laws and regulations can’t be conducted assuming the law doesn’t exist – in the meantime specific regulations arise. Also, while the lack of widely accepted global standards has led to a great deal of regulatory arbitrage, as crypto-assets issuers shop for jurisdictions with the lightest touch (or no touch), I believe they should not attempt to flee from regulation. By contrast, they should talk with financial market authorities.

It’s functional because with regard to crypto-assets with real intrinsic usage (non- speculative crypto-assets) this book discusses how a proactive self-regulation, ethical human behaviors, rigorous due diligence, improved governance, disclosure, investors protection and accountability measures could be applied to lead to better quality Initial Coin Offerings, a more sustainable fundraising environment for all the parties involved and mitigate risks due to regulatory uncertainty. At the same I propose (and encourage the adoption of) a Corporate Crypto Conduct Code for businesses in this space.

It’s short because my project in writing this book is to give a quick framework for understanding the most important securities law regimes. This book is not intended to be an exhaustive guide to the regulation of crypto-assets corporate finance transaction globally or in any of the included jurisdictions. Instead, for each jurisdiction, I have endeavored to provide a sufficient overview for the reader to understand the current legal and regulatory environment. I hope that it remains short enough to attract the readers I would like to reach: (i) my colleagues in international business and corporate law and related legal fields (who can start from these frameworks to make a more detailed analysis of the securities laws in the core jurisdictions summarized in this book); (ii) regulators and lawmakers (with the hope they will find this book a helpful guide to develop new strategies, policies and regulations); (iii) crypto-assets issuers (with the hope they understand the importance of being compliant with the law – even if and when, on the spot, it seems economically irrational – and the reasons why the current measures have arisen in the wider corporate world over time). 


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About the author (2019)

Massimiliano Caruso leads the International Business and Corporate Law Department of SINGULANCE, an award-winning international law firm based in New York, specialized in handling complex multi-jurisdictional business and corporate transactions.

Massimiliano is also Senior Advisory Board Member and Visiting Scholar at the FISF Fintech Research Center, Fanhai International School of Finance, Fudan University.

Massimiliano’s researches mainly focus on multi-jurisdictional comparative analyses of business, corporate and securities laws, involving primarily major common law systems (US, UK), major European continental civil law systems (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands) and European Union law, with references to other jurisdictions such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Massimiliano is a licensed legal consultant in New York and a lawyer admitted to the practice of law in Italy. Massimiliano’s professional expertise includes international law-sensitive aspects of business, finance, corporate and securities. His extensive knowledge of the civil and common law legal systems merges with broad international experience and a truly global perspective of law, business and finance.

Massimiliano’s professional affiliations include the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).

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