On February 6, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee began hearing testimony from the CFTC and the SEC regarding the currently unregulated cryptocurrency markets. Sources in Congress told Reuters that the hearings will mostly explore whether both of the agencies can actually oversee exchanges, as well as protect investors from market volatility and fraud, especially from cybercrime.
RK&O partner James Walker discussed the hearings with Traders Magazine, and he specifically noted the increased attention on attorneys involved in these transactions. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had previously said that attorneys would be held accountable for any potentially negligent "equivocal advice" regarding whether an ICO is a securities offering.
“Clayton’s comments reflect an important shift from the SEC viewing lawyers as gatekeepers who play an important role in ensuring compliance with the securities laws, to lawyers as primary actors when they counsel clients on ICOs and who must either discharge their compliance responsibility or risk facing charges, " said Mr. Walker.