Telegram creators Pavel and Nikolai Durov have filed a “Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities” with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Feb. 13, reporting $850 mln raised under the SEC exemption Rule 506(c) from 81 investors for “the development of the TON Blockchain, the development and maintenance of Telegram Messenger.”
The type of securities offered in the SEC filing are described as “Purchase Agreements for Cryptocurrency”, and are filed under the Rule 506(c) exemption that means that US citizens who invest must be accredited investors — those worth more than $1 mln or that have an annual income of $200,000 — in order for the tokens to not have to be registered with the SEC as securities.
The Eastman Kodak Company, which had announced the launch of their own ICO under the same exemption in early January, 2018, has postponed their ICO to take more time to verify their investors’ accredited status.
The date of the first sale for the Durovs’ ICO is noted as Jan. 29 of this year. By filing with the SEC, the Durovs are preparing to allow for US citizens to legally invest in their project, and implying that US citizens may in fact be some of the 81 investors.
Although the SEC filing did not contain the names of any investors in the Durov’s securities offering, Russian news outlet Vedomosti revealed today the names of some of the largest alleged investors, citing inside sources.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who purportedly has already invested in cryptocurrencies, reportedly was one of the first Russian citizens to be approved to invest in the project. One source allegedly close to the billionaire told Vedomosti that Abramovich had invested as much as $300 mln, however another source claimed the sum was closer to $20 mln.
Sergei Solonin, CEO of Russian payment service provider QIWI, invested $17 mln, Vedomosti writes. David Yakobashvili, co-founder of Russian-based dairy product company Wimm-Bill-Dann, told the publication that invested $10 mln in the project.
A Telegram ICO has been rumored to be in the making since December 2017, when a former Telegram employee wrote online that Telegram would be launching their own Blockchain platform and cryptocurrency, called either “The Open Network” or “Telegram Open Network” (TON).
A white paper, alleging to be for TON, was leaked in mid-January, but its authenticity has yet to be confirmed publicly by the Durov brothers.
The Durov’s SEC filing notes two issuers of securities, TON Issuers Inc. and Telegram Group Inc., both located in the British Virgin Islands. Under the “Related persons” section of the filing, Pavel Durov is listed as Executive Officer and Director, while his brother Nikolai is just listed as Executive Officer.
A source familiar with the TON funding told Vedomosti that the funding process was not conducted as an ICO in the “usual sense”, in which a project’s tokens are purchased for other cryptocurrency, usually either Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH). Instead, the source claims, it was more like a “closed allocation of securities in ordinary [fiat] currency --dollars and euros.”
According to the same source, and in line with the brothers’ SEC filing, investors bought rights to the internal cryptocurrency of TON, called “Grams”, which will be distributed to them once the platform is launched.