NY Court Orders Longfin to Pay $223M to Investors After Blockchain Pivot Turns Securities Fraud
Longfin, a now-defunct crypto firm that raised $27 million in 2017, has been ordered by a Manhattan federal judge to repay $223 million to its investors along with interest in the alleged security fraud case. Longfin acquired an undervalued company back in 2017, after which its share prices surged by 1000%.
The judgment came on July 29, where the federal judge concluded that Longfin, along with its chief executive Venkata Meenaalli, CTO Vivek Ratakonda, and the director of two related companies, Suresh Tammineedi collectively owned a nine-figure sum. The case's ruling has granted a default judgment, as requested by lead plaintiff Mohammad Malik in January. The judge in his decision noted that Malik:
“offered sufficient evidentiary support through declarations and exhibits submitted in support of his claim for damages, and no evidentiary hearing is required.”
A Brief History of the Case
Longfin launched an IPO as a Regulation A+ offering back in September 2017, which allowed the firm to raise funds from both accredited and non-accredited investors. It also obtained waivers from several registration requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. It went on to raise $27 million by December and called its IPO a successful event.
At the time, the firm also claimed that it had become the first publicly listed fintech firm under Reg A+ on Nasdaq. Soon after a successful IPO, Longfin acquired Ziddu.com, a cloud storage solution that claimed it had incorporated blockchain technology. The price of Longfin’s share surged by 1000% from $5 a share to $140 in early 2018. However, shareholders accused the company of issuing false and misleading statements, which led to the 1000% surge.
The firm is also accused of selling its shares after the surge, which prompted the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) to look into the firm’s working and investigate any wrongdoing. The SEC started their investigation in April 2018, and soon after, the price of the shares crashed.
In September 2019, the SEC received a judgment in its favor against Longfin, where a New York federal court found that the crypto firm falsified documents and data to receive Regulation A+ offering.
The court also found that Longfin lied about primarily operating from the US and lied about qualifying shares and shareholders sold in the offering. The court found that $66 million in revenue generated by the firm came from “fictitious revenue and sham commodities transaction” equivalent to 90% of the company’s revenue.