A U.S. federal court judge has directed the Telegram messaging platform to refrain from issuing its native gram tokens as scheduled in April, accepting a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) request for an injunction.
In a preliminary injunction held on March 24, Judge P. Kevin Castel, of the New York Southern District Court, stated that the SEC had demonstrated a substantial likelihood of victory in substantiating that the purpose of Telegram to roll out grams token is “an offer of securities under the Howey test. The Howey test refers to a factual test developed by the Supreme Court to evaluate if such precise transactions meet an investment contract’s requirements.
The Judge wrote:
“The Court finds that the SEC has shown a substantial likelihood of success in proving that the contracts and understandings at issue; including the sale of 2.9 billion Grams to 175 purchasers in exchange for $1.7 billion; are part of a larger scheme to distribute those Grams into a secondary public market; which would be supported by Telegram’s ongoing efforts.”
Telegram raised $1.7 billion for gram tokens in 2018
Two years ago, the messaging giants raised $1.7 billion through an ICO in an agreement to supply 2.9 billion gram tokens to 175 buyers. The buyers would make good profits after a resale of the digital asset to the public. According to Telegram, the project was legal citing a private placement of securities covered by a Regulation D 506(c) exclusion.
Moreover, Telegram sold the gram digital asset under a presumed simple consensus for future tokens or SAFT. SAFT refers to an investment contract built to offer an adaptable substitute to an ICO.
The SEC had complained back in October 2019 that the selling of the Telegram Open Network (TON) was unlawful. The agency argued that the grams made up of securities should be registered with SEC under U.S. laws and the selling of securities. The messaging platform has since disagreed with the claims. However, Telegram has agreed to withhold the launching of Telegram Open Network (TON) until its dispute with the SEC is resolved.
Last year, on 11 October, the SEC successfully requested a temporary injunction to halt the inauguration of the TON blockchain. Generally speaking, Gram tokens can not exist without the TON blockchain network. Since that temporary injunction, the SEC has been struggling to stop the blockchain from being launched for good.
The Securities and Exchanges Commission made a huge leap towards obtaining a permanent injunction in the latest case. According to Judge Castel:
“Considering the economic realities under the Howey test, the Court finds that in the context of the scheme; the resale of Grams into the secondary public market; would be an integral part of the sale of securities without a registration statement.”
Despite the closure of courtrooms during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Castel’s ruling was imminent before the end of the month. According to a clause during the purchase of grams agreement; Telegram may reimburse its investors if the TON network fails to launch by April 30.