ICO fraudsters from the 2017-18 bull market are still being pursued by the SEC
During the last major cryptocurrency bull market, initial coin offerings raised tens of billions of dollars.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States has charged a cryptocurrency issuer with “materially false and misleading representations.”
This is in relation to an unregistered securities offering that took place between August 2017 and January 2018, indicating that regulators were still on the lookout for initial coin offers from the previous market craze.
On Tuesday, Loci Inc., the company behind LOCIcoin, and its CEO, John Wise, were formally charged. During the $7.6 million crowdsale, the SEC believes Loci and Wise misled investors about the company’s revenues, personnel numbers, and user base.
Wise is also accused of misusing $38,163 in investor money for personal purposes, according to the agency.
“Loci and its CEO misled investors regarding critical aspects of Loci’s business,” said Kristina Littman, the head of the SEC Enforcement Division’s cyber unit, adding:
“Investors in digital asset securities are entitled to truthful information and fulsome disclosures so they can make informed investment decisions.”
Loci and Wise must also pay a $7.6 million civil fine as a result of their actions, according to the decision. The United States has a long history of penalizing bitcoin enterprises.
Since 2014, regulators from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network have imposed fines on cryptocurrency-related businesses totaling more than $2.5 billion, highlighting the murky regulatory climate surrounding digital assets.
The $2.5 billion in penalties, according to Elliptic Enterprises, a blockchain analytics startup based in the United Kingdom, encompassed a wide range of breaches, including fraud, the sale of unregistered securities, and a failure to comply anti-money laundering standards.
The SEC accounted for the lion’s share of the penalties at $1.69 billion. The CFTC imposed penalties of $624 million and FinCEN slapped crypto businesses with $183 million in fines.
The Office of Foreign Asset Control, with a fine of $606,000, was the regulator with the least fine.
Many people have referred to cryptocurrency as the “wild west” of finance. Prior to the establishment of Bitcoin’s genesis block in early 2009, tens of thousands of crypto-centric projects have sprung up.
Many of these businesses were founded in 2017, at the zenith of the initial coin offering craze.
ICOs enabled cryptocurrency firms to raise a lot of money without having to comply with the same onerous laws as traditional security offerings.
In 2017, and 2018, ICO fundraising totaled in the tens of billions, garnering negative publicity from securities regulators.
The SEC prosecuted the founders of multiple crypto firms, potentially putting a stop to the euphoria – at least in the United States.