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BlockFi Hit with Cease and Desist in New Jersey

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The Attorney General of New Jersey has ordered the high-yield crypto lender BlockFi to stop accepting new customers, the company’s CEO Zac Prince tweeted on Monday night.

The news is a significant blow to BlockFi, which is one of the more prominent companies in the crypto industry, and is known for offering yields of up to 8% to those who are willing to lend out their crypto.

“The order calls for BlockFi to stop accepting new BIA clients residing in New Jersey beginning July 22, 2021,” said Prince, adding that the company will be able to continue to serve existing customers in the state and other jurisdictions.

Forbes was first to report on the cease-and-desist after obtaining a draft press release from the Attorney General’s office. The publication cited a comment by Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck that suggests BlockFi has been violating securities laws.

“Our rules are simple: if you sell securities in New Jersey, you need to comply with New Jersey’s securities laws. No one gets a free pass simply because they’re operating in the fast-evolving cryptocurrency market. Our Bureau of Securities will be monitoring this issue closely as we work to protect investors,” said Bruck in the release, which is likely to become official in the coming hours.

It remains to be seen, however, whether New Jersey views BlockFi’s entire operation as a violation of securities laws or whether it only has issues with certain transactions. Given that federal regulators have declared BTC and ETH are not securities, the state may only have targeted the company over its offering of loans related to assets tied to projects like Chainlink and Uniswap.

In any case, BlockFi is now in serious trouble with regulators. The critical question in coming days and weeks will be whether officials in other states—especially New York—as well as federal regulators will also take legal action against the company.

BlockFi has been a darling of crypto investors, having raised over $450 million to date and achieved a $3 billion valuation. But it has had other recent stumbles—most notably a promotion in May that went awry, and saw the company send out rewards denominated in BTC, not dollars, resulting in massive liabilities. All of this has raised questions about whether the platform is safe for average consumers.

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