Telegram Founder Durov Should Testify in SEC Case Over Gram Token: Judge

Telegram's founder and CEO Pavel Durov, plus two other employees, should be deposed to give testimony in the SEC case over whether the gram token is a security, a judge has ordered.

Nov 26, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:44 a.m. UTC

Telegram's founder and CEO Pavel Durov, as well as two other employees, should give testimony in the SEC vs. Telegram case, a judge has ordered.

According to a document signed by District Judge P. Kevin Castel at the New York Southern District Court on Monday, Durov's deposition should take place on Jan. 7 or 8, 2020, at a location "agreed upon by the parties." That would be a little more than a month before Telegram is scheduled to meet the SEC in court to dispute the legal status of the gram token, which the SEC considers an unregistered security.

Telegram vice president Ilya Perekopsky, who was reportedly responsible for communications with investors during Telegram's $1.7 billion token pre-sales last year, should also be questioned on Dec. 16 in London, the order states.

The third person listed to provide pre-trial testimony is Shyam Parekh, a Telegram employee who's name was on Telegram's letters to investors that were leaked after the SEC sued the company, one of the investors told CoinDesk. Parekh's deposition will be held on Dec. 10, also in London.

The SEC sued Telegram in October, demanding that the messaging app company's blockchain project TON be halted and the tokens allocated to the project's investors not be distributed. The regulator said that Telegram woul flood the U.S. market with unregistered securities and make them available to retail investors.

Telegram disagreed with the SEC, arguing that it properly registered the token sale under Regulation D, and the token itself, once issued, "will merely be a currency or commodity," not a security. It has recently asked the court to drop the SEC action, rejecting all the allegations by the agency.

However, the company agreed to postpone the project's launch, previously scheduled for the end of October, until April, 2020, so the SEC case can be resolved. TON investors approved the delay, refusing an offer of a partial refund.

The project has been still been progressing in the background, however, releasing the code for the TON blockchain nodes in early September and instructing the investors to generate their public keys and send them to the company for the scheduled gram token distribution. The team has also released a desktop wallet app for grams, running so far on its test network.

Several exchanges have previously signaled their readiness to list grams, including Coinbase. According to court filings, a major custody provider for grams, Gram Vault, has also filed paperwork for listing the token on Poloniex.

Binance CEO Chanpeng Zhao (CZ) recently told CoinDesk he believed projects like Libra and TON cannot be stopped by regulatory actions.

The next New York court hearings on the case have been scheduled for February 18–19, 2020.

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