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US SEC confirms ‘dozens’ of cryptocurrency probes in progress

Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, has confirmed that “dozens” of cryptocurrency investigations are now underway.

In a new statement to the press, a spokesperson for the US Securities and Exchanges Commission has confirmed that the government agency is now conducting ‘dozens’ of investigations into cryptocurrencies and the operations of certain Initial Coin Offering (ICO) projects.

SEC Enforcement Division co-director Stephanie Avakian confirmed to Bloomberg that the agency has now expanded the scope of its operations to monitor cryptocurrency companies violating securities laws.

Avakian’s comments come shortly after the SEC issued statements to remind cryptocurrency platforms that their operations continue to fall under regulation as defined by the agency, and demanded that certain trading services register as exchanges.

In early March, the SEC warned that cryptocurrency exchanges must register as “a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration” – elaborating that “the SEC staff has concerns that many online trading platforms appear to investors as SEC-registered and regulated marketplaces when they are not”.

The SEC’s statement continues to outline that entities wishing to operate as an Alternative Trading System (ATS) will also be subject to regulatory requirements and must be registered with not only the SEC, but further must become a member of a self-regulatory organization.

In a statement to Bloomberg, Avakian elaborated that the SEC is now ‘very active’, and when asked as to the potential scope and a possible expansion of operations quipped that “I would just expect to see more and more”.

The SEC is reportedly examining token sales for signs of non-compliance or outright illegal activities, and is apparently focussing its endeavours on that involve Simple Agreements for Future Tokens (SAFTs).

At least two ICO projects have now seen their operations disrupted; WENN Digital’s KodakCoin ICO has now been delayed to properly verify accredited investors, while video-streaming ICO Stream has similarly postponed its token airdrop until it receives further guidance from the SEC, as its tokens might be viewed as securities.

Stream, more broadly, now faces a decision to ‘rebase’ its project and issue a key change in its strategy to avoid running afoul of regulators.

Despite looming regulatory threats and pressure from bodies such as the SEC, ICO projects continue to raise staggering amounts of capital – recently raising some $1 billion USD for the third consecutive month in a row.

Posted: Mar 19, 2018 Author: Bryan Smith Categories: ICO