Yes, you read it correctly, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is out for blood with crypto service providers who did not give credence to the regulations set forth to protect investors. The regulations are there for a reason and anyone who thinks they are above them will, at some stage, be in for a very rude awakening. In this case the SEC has issued a cease and desist order against ICO Rating, a website based out of Russia.
Ink the cease and desist order, the SEC point out that ICO Rating has been distributing information which was centered on ICO's. The majority of cryptocurrencies are deemed to be securities in the eyes of the US SEC and as such, information distribution on ICO's, the vehicle which drives the offering of the cryptocurrencies, would be akin to distributing information on a securities offering.
This is something I have been screaming about but to no avail and one of the specific reasons why we built TrustedIn Trading. Here on this platform, we deal with all of the issues which are associated with marketing of an offering which could be deemed a security to help projects comply.
How did ICO Rating break the regulations?
ICO Rating fell afoul of the regulations as they charged ICO's fees for listing and distribution of the projects information to users of the site and their databases. This is not illegal in any shape or form but where they screwed up was by not disclosing that they were actually being paid to issue this information.
The regulations in question are found under Section 17(b) of the Securities Act and if I may quote.
“It shall be unlawful for any person, by the use of any means or instruments of transportation or communication in interstate commerce or by the use of the mails, to publish, give publicity to, or circulate any notice, circular, advertisement, newspaper, article, letter, investment service, or communication which, though not purporting to offer a security for sale, describes such security for a consideration received or to be received, directly or indirectly, from an issuer, underwriter, or dealer, without fully disclosing the receipt, whether past or prospective, of such consideration and the amount thereof.”
What is Section 17(b) of the Securities Act
Section 17(b) deals specifically with information distribution. Ok, at first glance it may not seem so important, but it is important. Why? Well, If you are distributing information which involves individuals or entities potentially investing in a project, you should disclose any payments you have received.
This ensures that the receiver of the information understands that the information could be biased to the buy side. I would also state that the regulation does not exemplify how the information should be structured etc.
How Much Did ICO Rating Make?
Not a lot to be honest, according to the ICO Rating cease and desist order, they pulled in just over a 100k but that 100k will now be lost in its entirety to the SEC as well as added fines. The fine equates to 162,000 USD but the Sec in all of its Glory has seen fit to allow them to partially pay some of the fine in installments.
The Full Cease and Desist order can be found here.