A federal judge ruled against a blockchain startup and its founder after finding that several victims were defrauded out of potentially more than $1 million in cryptocurrencies.
U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks, of the Southern District of Florida, entered a “final default judgement” against Monkey Capital LLC, Monkey Capital Inc. and founder Daniel Harrison on Tuesday after finding that Harrison had failed to deliver a working product after conducting a token pre-sale.
Moreover, the judge found that Harrison did not return the funds to the plaintiffs despite being asked to do so prior to the case’s filing.
A default judgement is entered when a party has “failed to plead or otherwise defend against an action,” according to the ruling.
In his ruling, the judge noted:
“Plaintiffs commenced this action against defendants, alleging they contributed cryptocurrency worth millions of dollars in advance of a scheduled initial coin offering (ICO) and supposed launch of a private cryptocurrency exchange and decentralized hedge fund (the ‘Monkey Capital Market’). Plaintiffs state that the ICO never occurred, the status of the development of the Monkey Capital Market is unknown and that defendants unlawfully pocketed investor money.”
The judge found these charges against Harrison and Monkey Capital credible, writing “defendants have utilized plaintiffs’ cryptocurrency to cover defendants’ own business expenses and enrich themselves. As a result of defendants’ conversion of plaintiffs’ cryptocurrency to their own corporate and personal use, plaintiffs have suffered damage.”
The plaintiffs are seeking roughly $1.2 million in damages combined, but Middlebrooks wrote that he would like to confirm how the damages are being calculated.
A footnote in the ruling adds that at present, each plaintiff described which cryptocurrencies and how many tokens were sent to Harrison during the sale, with victims sending bitcoin, waves, mobilego and ethereum tokens. The plaintiffs then calculated the damages by using the cryptocurrencies’ price based on CoinMarketCap on July 13, 2018.
This hearing will take place on August 24.
In a statement, David Silver, the attorney for the plaintiffs, told CoinDesk that “In recognizing the fraud perpetrated by the defendants — and by holding them accountable for the to-be-determined monetary sum to be awarded to my clients — the Court has made a new mark on an old law that is positive for investors who lose money in fraudulently and illegally promoted ICOs.”
“Among other things, the Court determined that the products sold in the ICO were “securities” and that the defendants violated federal securities laws in connection with those sales. Even in a ‘novel’ area such as cryptocurrency investing, certain age-old standards hold true. Misrepresenting facts to investors to steal their money will not be tolerated.”
Read the full ruling below:
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
Image via Shutterstock