After a lengthy battle in the California court system, the Tezos Foundation has announced that it has settled a lawsuit outside of court, thus avoiding any legal scrutiny of the Tezos (XTZ) 2017 initial coin offering (ICO). However, while the parties have agreed on the settlement, it’s still up to a federal judge to approve it.
In either case, the settlement comes after a two-year-long legal dispute between the Foundation and a large number of participants in the Tezos ICO.
As far as the market was concerned, the news of the settlement was more or less a non-event, with XTZ prices largely following the larger crypto market, and ending the trading day on Friday more or less unchanged.
At pixel time (11:45 UTC), XTZ trades at c. USD 1.51 and is down 9% in a day, trimming its weekly gains to 29%. The price is down 56% in a month.
The move to settle the lawsuit was announced in an update on the Tezos Foundation website last Friday, and reportedly involves a one-time payment of USD 25 million. According to the Courthouse News Service, the settlement involves about 30,000 investors, all of whom participated in the ICO.
The Foundation said that the settlement was reached because it is “in the best interest of the Tezos project and community as a whole.” However, it added that the settlement was not an admission of guilt:
“The Foundation continues to believe the lawsuits were meritless and continues to deny any wrongdoing. However, lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming, and it was decided that the one-time financial cost of a settlement was preferable to the distractions and legal costs associated with continuing to fight in the courts.”
Although settlements outside of the legal system are common in order to avoid lengthy and expensive court battles, they invariably lead to speculations as to what the motivation for settling is when one of the parties claims no wrongdoing. The Tezos Foundation claims that its ICO was more of a “donation” than an actual investment scheme. Had the court ruled it to be an investment scheme, the Tezos Foundation would possibly be in violation of the U.S. securities regulations.
The settlement was also announced one day after the foundation in its biannual update revealed that it had USD 635 million in assets as of January 31, or 2.6% less than in July 2019. In January, 47% of the assets were held in bitcoin (BTC), down from 61% in July 2019. However, the share of XTZ in this portfolio increased from 15% in July 2019 to 23%. In the past three months, BTC lost c. 20% of its value, while XTZ is still up 1%.