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During the 2017 and 2018 boom, Balina promoted ICOs on different social media platforms, including his YouTube channel.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged crypto influencer Ian Balina for violating US securities law in connection with a 2018 initial coin offering (ICO). According to a complaint filed on the 19th of September, Balina violated the law while offering and promoting crypto asset securities called SPRK Tokens. The Commission claims that the crypto influence did not file a statement before promoting the tokens between April and July 2018. Also, the SEC said no exemption from registration is applicable.
Additionally, the SEC said Balina failed to disclose the compensation he got from promoting the SPRK ICO on social media. More so, the crypto influencer was accused of creating an investment pool on Telegram to re-sell his own SPRK tokens. Therefore, he violated the Securities Act by conducting “his own unregistered offering of SPRK tokens.”
During the 2017 and 2018 boom, Balina promoted ICOs on different social media platforms, including his YouTube channel, “Diary of a Made Man.” The entrepreneur organized the “Ian Balina Crypto World Tour” in 2018, going to different cities. He then hosted pitch contests for tech startups to compete to earn a chance to feature on his YouTube channel. During this time, he met the Sparkster team and included them on his channel.
SEC Charges Ian Balina Over Unregistered ICO in 2018
The relationship resulted in Balina promoting the SPRK offering on social media and on his website. The SEC argued that the crypto promoter had private negotiations with the team as he publicized SPRK. Per the negotiation, he asked to buy 7,143 ether (ETH) worth of SPRK tokens for resale. In addition, he also got a 30$ bonus in SPRK tokens for promoting the asset. The filing reads:
“The US-based investors in Balina’s pool irrevocably committed to the transaction when, from within the United States, they sent their ETH contributions to Balina’s pool. At that point, their ETH contributions were validated by a network of nodes on the Ethereum blockchain, which are clustered more densely in the United States than in any other country. As a result, those transactions took place in the United States.”
The defendant took to Twitter to say that he was excited to take the SEC fight public. In his tweet, Balina refers to the charges as “frivolous” and sets a bad precedent for the crypto industry. He explained that the entire crypto VC space could be in “trouble” if investing in a private sale with a discount is a crime. The influencer revealed that he turned down the settlement with the Commission.
Meanwhile, the SEC says it “seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement, civil penalties, and other appropriate and necessary equitable relief.”