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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it has fined and settled charges against ICO Ratings for failure to disclose payments it received to publicize digital asset offerings of issuers it had rated.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Russian entity ICO Rating agreed to pay $268,998 in order to settle charges of failing to reveal all the remittances it collected from suppliers for announcing their digital asset securities offerings.
Per SEC’s accusations conducted by J. Ashley Ebersole and Louis J. Gicale, Jr., in the SEC’s Washington, DC Office and supervised by Melissa Robertson, somewhere between December 2017 and July 2018, ICO Rating produced research reports and ratings of blockchain-based digital assets that included tokens characterized as securities, and publicize these results on its website and social media.
ICO Rating promoted itself as “a rating agency that issues independent analytical research,” and said their mission is “to help the market achieve the necessary standards of quality, transparency, and reliability.”
On the other hand, what ICO Rating hasn’t revealed, is that they were paid by certain issuers of ICO offerings it rated.
About goddamn time:
Russia(!) based "ICO Rating", a rating agency that issued research reports and ratings of tokens – gets charged by the SEC for failing to disclose that it was paid by certain issuers whose ICO offerings it rated.
— Katherine Wu (@katherineykwu) August 20, 2019
Melissa Hodgman, Associate Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division said:
“The securities laws require promoters, including both people and entities, to disclose compensation they receive for touting investments so that potential investors are aware they are viewing a paid promotional item. This requirement applies regardless of whether the securities being touted are issued using traditional certificates or on the blockchain.”
SEC found out that ICO Rating breached the anti-touting provisions of the Securities Act of 1933. Without commenting the SEC’s revelation, ICO Rating agreed to halt and refrain from committing or causing any future violations of such presentations and to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of $106,998, and a civil penalty of $162,000.
This month was pretty labored for the U.S. regulator. A few days ago, the regulator took action against some other ICO-based projects as is Reggie Middleton’s Veritaseum for whom SEC asks to freeze his assets because of the accusations of organizing the $14.8 million Veritaseum (VERI) initial coin offering (ICO).
Let’s also not forget that similar charges were brought against even some celebrities over the past year, including boxer Floyd Mayweather and rapper DJ Khaled, who had to pay fines after promoting the scam Centra two years ago.
Moreover, a few weeks ago, the regulator gained a $7 million dollar settlement with PlexCorps, PlexCorps owner Dominique Lacroix and its business partner Sabrina Paradis-Royer, over a supposedly illegal ICO. The SEC found out the accused have raised $8,269,218 through the PlexCoin ICO.
Let’s also not forget the settlement that New England-based company SimplyVital Health, Inc. got with the SEC who accused the company that it didn’t file a $6.3 million Ether (ETH) pre-sale of its HLTH tokens. Without denying the accusations of violating some parts of the Securities Act of 1933, SimplyVital agreed to a cease-and-desist order imposed by the SEC.
Also, last week SEC announced it will be concurrently detaining its verdicts on three Bitcoin ETFs – Bitwise Asset Management, VanEck and SolidX partners, and Wilshire Phoenix.
However, not everything is so dark when it comes to SEC’s decisions. For example, a crypto exchange startup INX Limited, is trying to raise around $129.5 million through an IPO registered with the SEC. If it succeeds, INX shall become one of the first blockchain-related IPOs on the Western markets.