As published on complianceweek.com, Wednesday October 2, 2019.
Blockchain technology company Block.one has agreed to settle charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission and pay a $24 million civil penalty for conducting an unregistered initial coin offering (ICO) of digital tokens that raised the equivalent of several billion dollars over approximately one year.
According to the SEC’s order, Block.one, which has operations in Virginia and Hong Kong, conducted an ICO between June 2017 and June 2018. The order found Block.one stated it would use the capital raised in the ICO for general expenses and also to develop software and promote blockchains based on that software.
Block.one’s offer and sale of 900 million tokens began shortly before the SEC released the DAO Report of Investigation and continued for nearly a year after the report’s publication, according to the order. It eventually raised several billion dollars worth of digital assets globally, including a portion from U.S. investors. Block.one did not register its ICO as a securities offering pursuant to the federal securities laws, nor did it qualify for or seek an exemption from the registration requirements, the SEC states.
“Companies that offer or sell securities to U.S. investors must comply with the securities laws, irrespective of the industry they operate in or the labels they place on the investment products they offer,” said Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
“Block.one did not provide ICO investors the information they were entitled to as participants in a securities offering,” said Steven Peikin, co-director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The SEC remains committed to bringing enforcement cases when investors are deprived of material information they need to make informed investment decisions.”
The SEC’s order finds Block.one violated the registration provisions of the federal securities laws. Block.one consented to the order without admitting or denying its findings.