SEC Asks for Telegram ICO Financials Ahead of CEO's Deposition

Telegram has been ordered by a judge to explain why it should not have to turn over bank documents relating to its $1.7 billion initial coin offering.

AccessTimeIconJan 3, 2020 at 7:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:54 a.m. UTC

Telegram has been ordered by a judge to explain why it should not have to turn over financials concerning its $1.7 billion initial coin offering (ICO). 

District Judge P. Kevin Castel of the New York Southern District Court ordered Telegram to respond by the end of day Friday following a request Thursday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SEC said the investment information is necessary ahead of next week’s deposement of three Telegram employees, including founder and CEO Pavel Durov.

“Defendants’ refusal to fully disclose and answer questions about their disposition of the $1.7 billion they raised from investors is deeply troubling,” the SEC’s letter states.

The SEC is scrutinizing how ICO investor money was spent, according to a case filing to the District Court on Thursday. Telegram has refused to hand over ICO allocation records relevant to the “efforts of others,” part of the Howey Test used by the SEC to determine if a financial product is a security. 

"The SEC is asking the court for an order compelling production of this information immediately, in advance of an upcoming deposition," Compound Finance general counsel Jake Chervinsky told CoinDesk.

"[The] judge may already plan to grant the motion and just wants to give Telegram its chance to be heard before doing so. I wouldn't be surprised if Telegram responds in a few hours and the Judge issues an order granting the motion a few hours after that (or tomorrow morning)," he said.

The SEC has asked for the relevant financial records ahead of the deposition, but Telegram has only released credits, and not debits, of its ICO investments to date citing issues with its banking partners. 

“The requested bank records are highly relevant to the issues in dispute in this case, including how much money Telegram has spent, and in what manner, in developing the TON Blockchain,” the SEC letter said. 

“This evidence is relevant to the efforts Telegram has made to ensure the viability and profitability of the Grams it sold,” the SEC added.

Telegram was court-ordered to halt the issuance of its gram token in October 2019 following an emergency action and restraining order by the SEC. The regulator said Telegram’s ICO constituted an unregistered securities offering. 

The New York court ordered Durov to be deposed at a mutually agreed upon location. The deposition is scheduled for Jan. 7–8 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Update (Jan. 3, 19:45 UTC): A previous version of this story said the motion to compel had been granted by the district judge while the court order only asks Telegram to respond to the SEC's request before a motion is granted.

Read the full SEC letter below.


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