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SEC Stokes Telegram Fire with Court Filing Containing New Revelations

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by Tolu Ajiboye · 3 min read
SEC Stokes Telegram Fire with Court Filing Containing New Revelations
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It may seem that the battle between the SEC and Telegram will never end. A new court filing by the SEC has introduced additional details to the ongoing case with Telegram about the company’s Gram tokens.

As the legal tussle between the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Telegram rages on, new information has come to light. In a recent filing by the SEC at the District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Commission has again come down hard on Telegram with a few revelations.

SEC Says Telegram Described GRAM as a Security New Filing

In a new document filed on Wednesday the 15th of January, the SEC claims that Telegram’s plan was for the Gram token to be securities. The document also cites instances where official correspondences suggest as much.

On one instance in the filing, a Telegram employee Shyam Parekh sent a message in March last year, to an investor’s accountant. According to the message, Parekh told the accountant that the unnamed investor has the right to 72,835,916.68 Gram tokens. However, excerpts from the message showed Parekh referring to Grams as securities. Parekh said “the Fund has clear title to such securities”, adding that “the securities are not pledged.”

Also, the SEC claims that employees’ choice of words spoke volumes. Specifically, staff used phrases like “sell Gram” when they should have used something more accurate like “selling the right to receive the token.”

The SEC believes that this is enough evidence for the Gram tokens to be properly classified as securities.

Telegram Was Aware of Resale Plans

In February 2018, Telegram filed a Form D application with the SEC. This type of application would somewhat eliminate the need for securities to be registered. While this works, there are restrictions.

One exemption, 506(c), specifically requires that securities are to be sold only to pre-accredited investors. Last year, the SEC got an injunction against Telegram, putting the token sale on hold. According to the Commission, Telegram didn’t put much in place to make sure that this rule wasn’t violated. Now, the SEC claims that Telegram knew that there were plans to resell.

Telegram Paid to Find Investors

Another claim is that Telegram paid Russian broker and asset manager ATON, back in June 2018. The filing indicates that the two entities agreed that ATON would “introduce potential investors to Telegram in exchange for 10% of the gross proceeds of the investment.”

So, far ATON has received $1.2 million.

Telegram Considered Public ICO

Apparently, in the early days, Telegram considered running a public initial coin offering (ICO) for the GRAM tokens. However, the filing says that the company decided not to move forward with this plan. Quoting Telegram’s Chief Investment Adviser, the filing says:

“We had ruled out a public ICO back in January principally for regulatory reasons.”

The filing also says that after 2021, the company also planned to do away with the first word in “Telegram Open Network” and leave it as “The Open Network”

There was a slight struggle about Telegram’s bank records, a request the SEC made which was rejected at first. Now, the ruling has been undone and Telegram is expected to turn over bank records to the SEC. The Commission hopes to find noteworthy evidence but the records will likely be heavily redacted.

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