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  1. SEC approves Microsoft’s $7.5 billion Bethesda purchase Microsoft’s offer to purchase Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Studios for $7.5 billion has been approved by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, reports Gamespot. The regulator has posted a “notice of effectiveness” for the deal on the 4th March which suggests the deal has been approved. Microsoft of course has more to worry about than US regulators, with the more hostile European Comission still to deliver their own decision. This decision is set to be published imminently, however, with the decision set to have been made on the 5th March 2021. If it goes through, Microsoft’s deal will give the company access to a huge collection of studios and IPs. Not only will the company gain access to massive studios like Bethesda Game Studios and id Software, but also smaller teams like Tango Gameworks. All future Zenimax games published under Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios will come to the video game subscription service Xbox Game Pass. While exclusivity will be decided on a case by case basis, there’s a chance that most games from the studio could be only available on the Xbox and PC platforms. SEC approves Microsoft’s $7.5 billion Bethesda purchase
  2. SEC says Telegram can't avoid federal securities laws by labeling their product a cryptocurrency. Telegram's plans for its cryptocurrency and blockchain network may be in jeopardy. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed an emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order against the company, which prevents it from distributing and selling its Gram tokens in the country. According to the regulators, the company sold 2.9 billion Grams at discounted prices to 171 initial purchasers worldwide, raising $1.7 billion in the process. A billion of those tokens were purchased by people in the US. The agency says Telegram didn't register the offering with its office, and since it sees Grams as securities, it's accusing the company of violating the Securities Act of 1933. It's not clear how this restraining order would affect Gram's launch as a whole. Former SEC attorney Zachary Fallon told Bloomberg that it could also complicate the company's ability to sell tokens in other countries. But even if it doesn't prevent Telegram from launching outside the US, it could still cause huge issues for the company. The New York Times reported back in August that Telegram promised investors it would deliver Grams by October 31st or return their money. The SEC Division of Enforcement's Co-Director Stephanie Avakian said: "Our emergency action today is intended to prevent Telegram from flooding the US markets with digital tokens that we allege were unlawfully sold. We allege that the defendants have failed to provide investors with information regarding Grams and Telegram's business operations, financial condition, risk factors, and management that the securities laws require." The agency also stressed that companies can't avoid federal securities laws just by labeling their products a cryptocurrency or a digital token. Source
  3. The German car brand is accused of "sales punching" and could face big fines if found guilty. Falsifying sales data is bad news, especially if you get caught by the SEC. The folks from BMW must have never seen HBO's The Wire. If they had, they'd know that juking the stats is always a bad idea. According to a report published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal, BMW is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is looking into BMW's US operations because the luxury brand has allegedly been engaging in a practice known as "sales punching," in which a dealer reports vehicles that are still in inventory as being sold. This shows up as inflated sales, which looks good on a monthly balance sheet but causes all kinds of other problems down the line. If this falsifying sales narrative sounds kind of familiar, it's likely because Fiat Chrysler underwent a similar investigation a few months ago, spurred in part by Reid Bigland, one-time head of the Ram truck brand. That investigation resulted in FCA shelling out a little cash for a fine and promising never to do it again. We'd expect similar results for BMW if found guilty. Notably -- and perhaps because of these sales practices which got them in trouble -- FCA joined Ford and General Motors in transitioning to quarterly sales reports, rather than monthly. The Wall Street Journal points out that while the Big Three changed reporting, most other brands still report monthly. Neither BMW nor the SEC responded immediately to Roadshow's request for comment. Source
  4. Founder and operator of defunct bitcoin exchange Bitfunder gets 14 months jail time for lying to regulators about the loss of more than 6,000 bitcoins. A crypto criminal case that dates back to 2013 has finally come to an end. The founder and operator of the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Bitfunder, Jon Montroll, was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in jail for lying to federal regulators about a hack that cost his customers more than 6,000 bitcoins—worth nearly $70 million at today’s prices. Montroll allegedly defrauded his customers by failing to disclose a hack of the exchange in July 2013. The Bitfunder operator then attempted to cover it up by misappropriating their funds to hide the lost bitcoins, according to federal prosecutors. The ordeal initially caught the eye of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the fall of 2013. When questioned about his bitcoin exchange’s operations and the breach of its systems by the SEC in November 2013, Montroll allegedly misled regulators, assuring them that his exchange’s funds were safe through a phony screenshot of balance statements. Montroll pleaded guilty to federal charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years probation by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. But the trouble doesn’t end there for Bitfunder’s founder, who also faces civil charges stemming from the case. In February 2018, the SEC charged Montroll with “operating an unregistered securities exchange and defrauding users of that exchange” in a civil-enforcement action. The Commission also alleged that Montroll sold “unregistered securities” that were supposedly “investments” in his business, and absconded with those funds as well. Source
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