October 18, 2019
At the time when most ICOs are considered to be scams, Telegram stood as a project that held the trust of investors around the world. The project was just about to launch the mainnet of its Telegram Open Network platform, when the SEC halted the project, stating that its ICO from 2018 was illegal.
This came as a surprise to many, as Telegram ICO became one of the most popular and well-known projects since the SEC cracked down on ICOs in early 2018. Furthermore, it also managed to raise $1.7 billion.
However, according to the US SEC, the token sale was not registered properly in the US, meaning that the project had no right to sell its GRAM token to US investors. Telegram Open Network addressed the SEC statement in an official letter sent to its investors, claiming that the company and the regulator are trying to resolve the situation.
Meanwhile, GRAM launch will be delayed until the matters have been handled. It remains unclear what the SEC might demand in order to solve the existing issues, or what Telegram might be willing to do to achieve this goal. It is likely that more information will become available on October 24th, after Telegram's scheduled court hearing. On the other hand, some speculate that Telegram Open Network and Pavel Durov — Telegram's founder — might try to take action before that, or at least set the project down the path that would allow it to avoid negative consequences.
Some speculate that TON might do the same thing that Mark Zuckerberg and the Libra project did. Facebook's owner greeted regulators with open arms while trying to convince them that Libra cannot endanger the US financial system in any way. However, some of Libra's biggest investors and supporters — including PayPal, eBay, VISA, and several others — decided to withdraw from the project.
While it remains unclear as to what kind of consequences this may have on the project's future, it becomes clear that the SEC is not exactly flexible when it comes to innovations. Now, if Zuckerberg manages to convince the SEC that Libra is not a threat to the US financial system, it might get a pass. The same cannot be expected when it comes to GRAM, as Telegram Open Network is not based in the US.
Another solution would be for TON to simply give up on including the American market, and launch its platform elsewhere. Of course, that would have certain implications as well, and not only the fact that the US SEC has an international reach. Another thing to keep in mind is that TON would have to refund US investors, which have bought at least 1 billion of a 2.9 billion GRAM tokens that were offered for sale. The only other alternative is that Telegram launches its platform illegally,
It is also worth noting that the majority of Telegram's audience — its key audience, in fact — is located in Europe, Brazil, and Arab countries. These are also locations that have purchased the most tokens apart from the US.
Of course, the main question is whether or not the SEC can stop Telegram from launching GRAM, and the answer is — not really. Neither the regulator nor the US government has the tools that would stop GRAM from being used and distributed, nor what it takes to stop Telegram from operating. The only thing that they really could do is to demand that Telegram and Durov pay large sanctions and fines, but they cannot really take down the platform. In other words, the launch of Telegram Open Network is coming, and likely very soon.
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