In its ongoing battle with social media company Telegram and the planned launch of the Gram cryptocurrency, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has produced documents that could bolster Telegram’s defense. The SEC has received confirmation that Telegram had been in contact with at least one crypto exchange in an effort to have Gram listed by the exchange, supporting previous comments that the company had been in touch with the financial regulator as it prepared to introduce the Telegram Open Network (TON).
The SEC is suing Telegram for preparing to offer what it deems is an unregistered security. However, Telegram has been irked by the move, asserting that the commission only launched the lawsuit in a retaliatory manner, despite the fact that the two entities had been in communication about the project for some time. It also offered, at one point, to remove the “TON Reserve’s Gram-buying function if the Staff believes that its inclusion would cause Grams to be considered securities under Howey.” However, the SEC didn’t respond and then introduced the lawsuit.
The suit has forced certain documents to come to the surface, including a listing application for the Circle-owned Poloniex crypto exchange. The Circle Asset Listing Form was submitted just before the SEC filed its suit, confirming statements Telegram made to the SEC in July that it was looking to put Gram on one or more crypto exchanges.
The form was filed by Sergey Vasin, the chief operating officer (COO) of crypto exchange Blackmoon. He indicated that he was acting in the capacity of the COO of the Gram Vault, a Gram custodian that owned most of the tokens. Gram Vault had reportedly purchased 50% of the available tokens in the first offering and 75% in the second.
The SEC was upset because Telegram wouldn’t disclose its complete list of investors, which may have prompted the lawsuit. Telegram had argued that providing the information would compromise investor agreements. Its lawyer, Alexander Drylewski, was willing to assist up to a reasonable point, however, and told the SEC, “We’re available to meet and confer regarding these requests, which, as you know, implicate significant data privacy issues, among others.”
Coinbase, Bittrex and other exchanges had also acknowledged that they had been in talks with Telegram to list the cryptocurrency prior to the SEC lawsuit.
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