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SEC warns bitcoin, cryptocurrency investors at risk

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, January 5th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A Bitcoin and Dollar notes are seen in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned Thursday that investors should “exercise caution” with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, noting state and federal regulators may not be able to recoup any lost investments from illegal actors.

Many promoters of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other cryptocurrency investments are not following federal and state securities laws, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and Commissioners Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar said in a statement. While regulators are trying to police these quickly growing markets, the SEC urged investors to be vigilant.

“The SEC and state securities regulators are pursuing violations, but we again caution you that, if you lose money, there is a substantial risk that our efforts will not result in a recovery of your investment,” the officials said.

Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by David Gregorio

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Ressa, six other Rappler execs face charges anew over anti-dummy law violation

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Friday, March 29th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice charged Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and six other members of the board of directors of violation of the Anti-Dummy Law or Commonwealth Act No. 108 and the Securities and Regulations Code.

The charge filed before Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 265, is in connection with Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) it issued to Omidyar Network Fund, LLC in 2015.

Along with Ressa, other members of Rappler Holdings Corporation facing charges are: Glenda Gloria, managing editor of Rappler, Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, James Bitanga, Felica Atienza, and  James Velasquez.

The court is yet to release the copy of the full resolution to the public.

The case stemmed from the ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission ordering the cancellation of the certificate of incorporation of the online news site and Omidyar’s Philippine Depository Receipts.

The court said the online news site violated the constitutional restrictions on mass media ownership and control for receiving a donation from Omidyar Network, owned by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar.

PDRs are issued to foreign investors which grants them the right to engage in the delivery of sale in a Philippine company.  PDRs are not evidence or statements nor certificates of ownership of a corporation.  

The six Rappler board members have reportedly paid a bail bond of P90,000 each for the charge of violation of the Anti-Dummy Law, ahead of the issuance of a warrant.

Ressa who is out of the country, however, has yet to post bail for the said charge which is set at P126,000 each.

Pasig RTC 265 set the arraignment and pre-trial of the case on April 10. – Maris Federez

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Court of Appeals denies Rappler plea on SEC case

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, March 11th, 2019

Court of Appeals facade (UNTV News)

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its earlier decision declaring that the online news site Rappler is not fully owned by Filipinos.

In a resolution promulgated on February 21, 2019, CA rejected the plea of Rappler and its holding company, Rappler Holdings Corporation (RHC) to reverse its July 2018 decision to affirm the order of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in revoking its business articles of incorporation for alleged violation of ownership restrictions.

The SEC, in January 2018, cancelled Rappler’s registration for allegedly violating the constitutional requirement for mass media to be 100-percent Filipino-owned because it allowed Omidyar Network to hold Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDR).

The appellate court said in its ruling, that Rappler failed to raise any new argument, reiterating that there was no violation on the part of SEC when it revoked the online site’s registration due to ownership issue.

“After careful scrutiny of the instant motion, this court finds that it presents no compelling reason to justify the reconsideration of this court’s decision dated 26 July 2018. The arguments raised by petitioners are essentially the same as those that have already been discussed and were exhaustively passed upon in this Court’s decision,” the resolution read.

Rappler has long insisted that it is completely Filipino-owned and is not covered by a Philippine law prohibiting foreigners from owning a mass media entity.

The Court, however, said that Rappler is a mass media entity despite its argument that its online nature was not among the mass media acknowledged under the law, because its actions, as well as its articles of incorporations and by-law, stated that it is in the business not fully Filipino ownedof operating news, information and social network services.

CA also said that it needs further study on Omidyar Network’s action of donating all of its PDRs to Rappler staff, which Rappler claims to have already addressed what was previously found objectionable by SEC.

“It is incumbent upon the SEC to evaluate the terms and conditions of said alleged supervising donation and its legal effect, particularly, whether the same has the effect of mitigating, if not curing, the violation it found petitioners to have committed. If so, this may warrant a re-examination of the sanction of revocation of petitioners’ Certificates of Incorporation imposed by the SEC En Banc in the assailed decision,” CA said.

“In view of the said directive, this court will refrain from discussing the donation so as not to preempt the evaluation, and the subsequent finding and conclusion to be reached by the SEC. Besides, this court notes that petitioners are merely seeking partial reconsideration of this Court’s decision, which means that its ruling remanding the case and directing the SEC to conduct an evaluation of the legal effect of the alleged donation stands and binds petitioner,” the court concluded. – Robie de Guzman

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EXCLUSIVE: G20 financial heads to urge crypto-asset monitoring to safeguard financial stability

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Cryptocurrencies are seen on a website that tracks the value of initial coin offerings (ICO) in this illustration photo taken September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The world’s financial leaders will call on international standard-setting bodies on March 20 for stronger monitoring of crypto-assets and to assess the need for a multilateral response as such assets could at some point threaten financial stability.

The call appears in a draft communique prepared for the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Buenos Aires on March 19-20, seen by Reuters.

The financial leaders will say the technological innovation behind crypto-currencies has the potential to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of the financial system.

“Crypto currencies, however, raise issues with respect to consumer and investor protection, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing. At some point they could have financial stability implications,” the draft communique adds.

“We agree that international standard setting bodies strengthen their monitoring of crypto-assets and their risks… and assess whether multilateral responses may be needed.”

Regulators globally have raised the alarm over cryptocurrencies, saying they may aid money laundering and terrorist financing, hurt consumers and undermine trust in the global financial system.

Japan was the first country to adopt a national system to oversee cryptocurrency trading. It carried out checks on several exchanges this year after the theft of $530 million from one exchange, Coincheck Inc, in January.

France and Germany have said they will make joint proposals to regulate the bitcoin cryptocurrency market.

The head of the European Union’s watchdog said a short-term strategy could be to focus on applying anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules, warning consumers of the risk of trading in cryptocurrencies and preventing banks from holding them.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said last week that many online trading platforms for cryptocurrencies should be registered with the regulator and subject to additional rules, in a further sign regulators are cracking down on the digital currency sector.

In a statement, the SEC said these “potentially unlawful” platforms may be giving investors an unearned sense of safety by labeling themselves as “exchanges.” The regulator said these platforms need to register with the SEC as a regulated national securities exchange or as an alternate trading system, or ATS.

Virtual currencies have existed for years but speculation in them has recently ballooned – along with scams promising investors returns of over 1,000 percent in weeks.

In a time of volatile markets, hackers are also active in the sector.

Bitcoin, the best known virtual currency, lost over half its value earlier this year after surging more than 1,300 percent last year.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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