Do Kwon and Terraform Gave Investors A Reasonable Expectation of Profits: How They Talked LUNA Upby@secagainsttheworld

Do Kwon and Terraform Gave Investors A Reasonable Expectation of Profits: How They Talked LUNA Up

by SEC vs. the WorldOctober 7th, 2023
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Do Kwon and Terraform Labs gave reasonable expectation of profits to investors.

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SEC v. Terraform Court Filing, retrieved on February 16, 2023, is part of HackerNoon’s Legal PDF Series. You can jump to any part in this filing here. This is part 12 of 38.


3. Reasonable Expectation of Profits From Defendants' Managerial Efforts.

49. Investors in LUNA reasonably expected to profit from Defendants' efforts to develop and support the Terraform ecosystem.

50. Defendants publicly pitched LUNA as an investment that would increase in value with increased usage of the Terraform blockchain that could result from Defendants' continued development and maintenance. Defendants publicly stated that as the Terraform ecosystem grew based on Defendants' efforts, the value of LUNA would go up as well. As Kwon explained in an April 7, 2021 thread on Twitter (referring to LUNA as "moon"):

51. In the same April 7, 2021 thread, Kwon explicitly touted that the value of LUNA could grow as the Terraform "ecosystem" grows, specifically tying that potential growth to his own efforts (which he promised would be successful by touting that he would "kick ass") while investors remained passive (or "s[a]t back") in the enterprise.

52. As one Terraform employee put it in Terraform's publicly-available Telegram messaging application, the "[v]alue of Luna grows as Terra [ecosystem] gets adopted and used." Another Terraform employee noted in an online Ask-Me-Anything interview on Reddit: “[i]n the long-run... Terra's transaction volume will be the main determinant of Luna's value."[3]

53. In marketing materials distributed to potential investors in January 2019, Terraform described purchases of LUNA as "investments" and LUNA buyers as "investors." The same materials noted that "top global exchanges and funds" already had "invested in" Terraform (referring to their purchase of LUNA), and that Terraform had raised $32 million in July 2018 from an "elite group of VCs" referring to venture capital firms.

54. Some of Terraform's offers and sales of LUNA were governed by purchase agreements between Terraform and LUNA investors. These agreements generally entitled buyers to acquire LUNA at a discount to market prices. By selling at a discount to market prices, Defendants incentivized buyers to seek to sell their LUNA into public markets in order to realize a profit.

Moreover, for some buyers who purchased LUNA prior to the public launch of the token, Defendants provided in some of the agreements for a gradated token distribution schedule that would control for the flow of LUNA tokens being sold into the market, such that early investors would receive their LUNA continuously over a period of 12-18 months.

These provisions controlled the release of LUNA over a longer period of time in smaller quantities, to control for potential negative effects on LUNA's price that could occur with large distributions of LUNA into the market. These provisions reflected the expectations of both Defendants and investors that that these LUNA investors would seek to sell their LUNA into public markets for a profit and sought to protect LUNA's trading price by limiting amounts that could be resold during any given time period.

55. Defendants also engaged in efforts to develop, support, and grow the Terraform ecosystem. Defendants publicly touted these efforts through a variety of forums, including widely accessible online social media platforms, such as accounts with Twitter and Medium, messaging applications with public channels like Telegram, and YouTube.

Terraform's stated efforts to grow the Terraform ecosystem included four substantial version upgrades of the Terraform blockchain, adding myriad back-end technical features and front-end user applications, entering into partnerships with collaborators to develop ecosystem features, and otherwise extensively and publicly promoting the Terraform ecosystem.

56. As Defendants engaged in and touted these efforts, the market price of LUNA increased from under a dollar in early 2021 to a high of around $119.18 in April 2022, before it crashed to under a penny in May 2022, as represented by the graph below:

57. Defendants also provided monthly "Community Updates" on publicly available Medium blog posts, which discussed Defendants' coding and development the Terraform ecosystem. Similarly, Terraform employees and Kwon touted their efforts to develop and support the Terraform ecosystem in monthly investor emails that they distributed called "Terraform Labs Investor Update" (later renamed to "Terraform Labs Ecosystem Update").

The recipients of these "Updates" had email addresses that included, for example, an email group [email protected]. These emails highlighted Terraform's engineering, coding, and integration of applications to the Terraform ecosystem, among other things. These emails also announced new Terraform hiring for positions "key" to the ecosystem's development.

58. Terraform and Kwon also engaged in other efforts to create LUNA resale opportunities by applying to crypto asset trading platforms to make LUNA available for trading, including submitting questionnaires that provided information about LUNA and Terraform, and then furthered LUNA investors' reasonable expectations of profits by publicly announcing new trading platform listings.

[3] Another Terraform employee agreed in an internal communication: "Luna receives value from Terra [stablecoin] as Terra [stablecoin] is transacted. In a way, investing in Luna is a bet that Terra's economy will grow larger over time. Investors buy into Luna, not Terra."

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This court case 1:23-cv-01346 retrieved on September 13, 2023, from is part of the public domain. The court-created documents are works of the federal government, and under copyright law, are automatically placed in the public domain and may be shared without legal restriction.