Three individuals who bought cryptocurrency through Coinbase filed a proposed class action March 11 in the Southern District Court of New York alleging that Coinbase is operating as an unregistered securities exchange. The lawsuit lists 79 tokens that it claims are securities Coinbase is selling in violation of state and federal law, and the buyers were not warned of the risks involved in their purchases.

The plaintiffs, Christopher Underwood, Louis Oberlander and Henry Rodriguez, represented by Connecticut law firm Silver Golub & Teitell, filed the amended complaint naming Coinbase Global, Coinbase and CEO Brian Armstrong as defendants. The 255-page document argues separately for each token in question that it qualifies as a security under the Howey test as “investment of money in a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits to be derived from the efforts of others.”

In addition, the suit says Coinbase is the “actual seller” when an exchange takes place, crediting and debiting the parties involved in the transaction in its accounts, rather than facilitating a direct exchange between those parties.

Philip Moustakis, counsel at Seward & Kissel, said, “The case is not much of a surprise. After all, the SEC has signaled that it intends to pursue investigations or actions against crypto-exchanges.”

Similar cases that arose after the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, began cracking down on initial coin offerings in 2018, Moustakis said. However, while the SEC has pursued cases against token issuers, such as its current dispute with Ripple, and


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