Telegram considering keeping investor funds after SEC decision

Recent news that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had restrained Telegram from continuing with its token offering seemed bad for the company. Now, reports out of Russia indicate the company might be letting the fallout fall on their customers.

The Bell, a Russian outlet, reports that Telegram is considering using a ‘Force Majeure’ clause in their investment contract. While typically referring to acts of god, like earthquakes or typhoons, the Telegram Open Network (TON) investment contract was written to also include a clause for regulatory setbacks.

The SEC’s decision to file a restraining order against Telegram likely fits that bill. The American regulatory body had determined the TON token offering had not followed the law, having failed to follow disclosure responsibilities designed to keep investors safe.

Without the Force Majeure clause, Telegram would be expected to return their investors funds for failing to push through with the token offering as advertised. That’s what Telegram founder Pavel Durov has promised in the past.

However, by invoking the clause, it allows Telegram to hold onto the funds with the hopes of delaying the token offering to a later date. That would be a controversial decision if taken by the company, as investors may want to make a different choice with their money considering the evolving situation with the token offering.

Those investors will just have to live with that possibility, said David Yakobashvili. “Anything can happen, the project is big, problems are possible,” he told the outlet. But that doesn’t mean they have to like it. When news hit of the SEC’s decision, Yakobashvili commented: “Everyone laughs, laughs very nervously.”

While Telegram has noted that they hope to negotiate a way out of this problem with the SEC, the regulator’s comments have suggested that might be hopeless. The press release announcing the restraining order suggested the SEC will do everything it can to ensure the TON offering never goes forward.

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