Jared Marx is an attorney at Washington, DC law firm Harris, Wiltshire Grannis. He advises companies about bitcoin-related regulatory law and represents companies and individuals in civil and criminal proceedings. Here, he discusses how US law applies to non-US cryptocurrency companies.
The blockchain is borderless, but nations are not. Because of this, one of the well-known challenges of running a successful cryptocurrency business is navigating divergent legal systems.
For non-US companies, however, this is complicated even further by the fact that the United States often enforces its laws beyond its own borders. That’s because US enforcement authorities take an expansive view of their jurisdiction, sometimes prosecuting those with only very tangential links to the US.
Applying US law
So exactly how does US law apply outside of its physical borders?
The first and most important thing to know is that, as a general matter, any company that does business in the United States is likely to be subject to US law, even if the company isn’t located here. So incorporating in Finland and locating servers and employees in Helsinki won’t eliminate the effect of US law for a company that mostly serves US customers.
That means that