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crypto-assets

This press release from the USA's Securities and Investment Commission is about an old-fashioned (alleged) fund management fraud in which crypto-assets were the hook by which investors were encouraged to put money into a scheme which was not, says the SEC, what the promoters said it was.

You'd have thought that you'd heard the last of US lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the self-styled lobbyist, film producer, writer and businessman when he was awarded the coveted additional position, without which no American businessman's career is, seemingly, complete: that of convicted felon. After all, when you've been jailed for fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion you'd keep your head down, wouldn't you.

But then again, when your entire career has been working with dodgy businesses and doing dodgy political deals, perhaps there's nothing left to do but be dodgy over cryptoassets. A crypto-coin especially designed to be resistant to money laundering: AML Bitcoin was tailor-made for Abramoff. Now he's awaiting sentence and the company behind it is in disarray - and spending investors' money on litigation.

But what lies behind it is even more fascinating and takes us on a global trek from Las Vegas via Texas to London, Singapore and Melbourne - then across the Pacific to...

The headline may be intemperate but the point should not be easily overlooked. The English Common Law has something that codified legal systems, such as those across much of the EU, do not have - flexibility. That is an extraordinary strength that is being eroded in many areas of law. In this case, the point is to solve a problem without codification. Even so, it's odd that, in the specific instance, it's taken so long to come to a consensus - after all, common law is generally common sense. In this case, it's all about cryto-assets and smart contracts in respect of which the UK Jurisdiction Task Force has issued a statement. It's not binding on courts but it's highly persuasive, as Nigel Morris-Cotterill explains.

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