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ICO

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Although the heydays of the initial coin offering are now in the rearview mirror, the US Securities and Exchange Commission continues regulatory action against those accused of conducting ICO’s in violation of the securities laws. On September 8, 2021, the SEC charged Rivetz Corp., Rivetz International SEZC, and Steven K. Sprague, the head of both companies, with conducting an illegal, unregistered offering of securities through an ICO. According to the SEC’s complaint, between July and…

Early posts in this blog mentioned how former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had famously told Congress in February 2018 that “I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security.” His successor, Gary Gensler, resurrected those thoughts in his prepared remarks delivered on August 3, 2021 to the Aspen Security Forum: I think former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said it well when he testified in 2018: “To the extent that digital assets like [initial coin offerings, or…

One of the poster-children for the ICO craze in late 2017-18 was an iced-tea company in Long Island, New York known as the Long Island Iced Tea Co. From approximately 2015 to 2017, the company’s principal business was ready-to-drink beverages. In December 2017, the company changed its name to Long Blockchain Corp. (LBC) and announced that it was shifting its business operations from soft drink production to activities related to blockchain technology. The rebranding with…

We previously reported how, on April 3, 2020, multiple class-action law suits were filed in the Southern District of New York against a host of crypto exchanges and token issuers, including Block.one. One of those cases was dismissed, which led to five others then being withdrawn. The case against Block.one has now been settled. At the height of the ICO craze in 2017-18, Block.one raised a record $4 billion in its ICO, much of it…

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission continued to the very end of 2020 to pursue companies that engaged in ICOs without proper registration. One December 23, 2020, the SEC settled charges against Texas-based blockchain startup company Tierion, Inc. for conducting an unregistered offering of securities in the form of a “token sale.” According to the SEC’s order, Tierion raised approximately $25 million through the sale of “Tierion Network Tokens” (TNT) in July of 2017. The…

ShipChain was a company engaged in developing a logistics tracking and management platform using the Ethereum blockchain technology. During the height of the ICO craze in late 2017, ShipChain raised more than $27 million in an ICO. On December 22, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ordered ShipChain to cease and desist and to pay a $2.05 million penalty. As the Order explained, ShipChain first launched its ICO in October 2017, and the ICO continued through…

An indictment unsealed on December 9, 2020 shows that cryptocurrency founder, Amir Bruno Elmaani (aka “Bruno Block”) has been charged with two counts of U.S. federal tax evasion. Elmaani is alleged to have made millions of dollars in income from the sale and exchange of cryptocurrencies but attempted to obscure his ownership of that income through various schemes and evaded reporting that income to the U.S. IRS. In September and October 2017, Elmaani, using his…

On September 15, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against Unikrn Inc., an operator of an online eSports gaming and gambling platform for conducting an unregistered initial coin offering (ICO) of digital asset securities. Unikrn agreed to settle the charges by paying a $6.1 million penalty, substantially all of the company’s assets, to be distributed to investors through a Fair Fund. According to the SEC’s order, between June and October 2017, Unikrn raised approximately…

INX Limited, a Gibraltar-based private company formed in 2017, announced on August 24 that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared as effective INX Limited’s Form F-1 registration statement. A Form F-1 is the registration required for foreign companies seeking to issue securities under U.S. federal law. This approval marks the first instance in which the SEC has cleared a full registration statement for a public offering of crypto-tokens. The SEC has previously approved…

On August 13, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced charges against Virginia-based Boon.Tech and its chief executive officer Rajesh Pavithran for fraud and registration violations in connection with a $5 million initial coin offering of digital asset securities.  According to the SEC’s from November 2017 to January 2018, Boon.Tech and Pavithran raised approximately $5 million by selling Boon Coins to more than 1,500 investors in the U.S. and worldwide to raise funding to…