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Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets

Blockchain technology, virtual exchanges, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets are rapidly changing the way individuals and companies invest, trade, and spend money around the world.

As agencies act to regulate activities in this emerging space, litigation, investigations, and enforcement actions are increasing. The Brattle Group's experience with economics and financial markets – coupled with its deep knowledge of the cryptocurrency ecosystem – allow our experts to provide turnkey consulting and testimony services across the industry.

Our clients include major law firms, crypto-companies, and regulators and supervisory authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) – who increasingly investigate cryptocurrency matters. These clients value our deep understanding of the rapidly evolving industry and our ability to provide detailed analyses that communicate complex issues in straightforward and compelling ways.

Our Focus 

  • Asset tracing
  • Cross-exchange abritrage
  • Fraud
  • Initial coin offerings (ICOs)
  • Liquidation plans of concentrated holdings of digital assets
  • Market manipulation
  • Market structure of the cryptocurrency ecosystem
  • Rebates and trading incentive structures on crypto-exchanges
  • Tax considerations
  • Theft
  • Trading abuses

Engagements
REPRESENTATIVE ENGAGEMENTS

Below is a list of representative engagements for our Cryptocurrency and Digital Assets practice.

Asset tracing in an ICO

A government agency hired Brattle to work on a criminal matter related to an ICO. Brattle acquired and analyzed cryptocurrency transaction data, and used the immutable nature of the blockchain technology to trace asset flows through a web of on-chain routing addresses intended to obscure the flow of funds raised from investors in the ICO. Brattle experts identified the destination addresses of the ICO funds raised, tabulated off-chain cryptocurrency exchange conversions to fiat currency, and identified subsequent fiat currency distributions to bank accounts.

Alleged market manipulation

For a civil class action related to an alleged manipulation of cryptocurrencies, Brattle was engaged to research, analyze, and opine on the economics of stablecoins, cryptocurrencies, or digital assets whose values are tied to real assets held in reserve, and the markets in which stablecoins and other cryptocurrencies trade. Brattle opined on the market structure of crypto-exchanges and the use of stablecoins to contribute to price discovery via increased speed of transfers within and across such exchanges. Brattle also provided an econometric causation analysis evaluating the relationship between issuances of stablecoins and price returns of cryptocurrencies.

Divestiture plan of digital assets

A departed co-founder of a leading digital asset platform was prevented from selling his holdings on third party crypto-exchanges (TPEs) as part of his liquidation plan. Brattle prepared several reports explaning the interconnectedness of such exchanges and demonstrating that this constraint was unduly limiting, given the growing importance of TPEs in the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Rebates on digital exchange

Brattle experts supported an economic analysis of liability and damages related to alleged collusive behavior by traders on an exchange with listings of digital assets. The allegations involved market-making algorithms that exploited market maker/taker fee structures (common across crypto-exchanges) and allegedly violated the exchange's terms of service. The Brattle team evaluated counterclaims of improper account seizures and forced portfolio liquidations.

Financial accounting

Brattle was retained in a FINRA enforcement action against a respondent alleged to have issued unregistered securities in the form of virtual currency for which he had acquired the exclusive rights.  Brattle supported a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) expert opining on an alleged misstatement of assets and improper financial statement reporting shared with prospective investors during the fundraising process. 

Experts
Publications
Article
Bitcoin Futures Markets: A Year Later
March 15, 2019
Ioannis Gkatzimas and Marek Zapletal
Published in Mondaq
Article
How Blockchain Could Rescue 10b-5 Damages
August 24, 2018
George S. Oldfield, Angela Lam, and Ethan Moore
Published in Law360

The article discusses the potential use of a blockchain-based recording system in solving 10b-5 damages allocation issues. 

Article
ICOs: What are they and what does the future hold?
June 22, 2018
Published in Securities Regulation Daily

Brattle Principal Ioannis Gkatzimas and Senior Associate Sujay Dave have written an article on initial coin offerings (ICOs).

News & Knowledge
August 24, 2018
Brattle's George Oldfield Publishes Article on Potential Role of Blockchain in 10b-5 Damages Cases

Brattle Principal George S. Oldfield co-authored an article for Law360 on the potential use of a blockchain-based recording system in solving 10b-5 damages allocation issues.

June 22, 2018
Article by Brattle Economists Makes Sense of Initial Coin Offerings

Brattle Principal Ioannis Gkatzimas and Senior Associate Sujay Dave have written an article on initial coin offerings (ICOs) published in Securities Regulations Daily.

July 24, 2014
Securities and Commercial Litigation Expert Ioannis Gkatzimas Joins The Brattle Group

Securities and commercial litigation expert Ioannis Gkatzimas has joined the firm’s San Francisco office as a principal. Mr. Gkatzimas has significant experience in a wide range of finance and securities litigation matters.