The Securities and Exchange Commission SEC has fined Coinschedule.com, a former ICO review site for its racketeering role in promoting paid favourable reviews from ICO displayed on its website. SEC states that Coinschedule.com flouted the anti-touting provisions of federal securities laws.
According to a July 14 SEC release, Coinschedule failed to disclose it was receiving compensation from digital asset issuers for favourable reviews. Consequently, Blotics, formerly known as Coinschedule is liable to pay a settlement penalty of $154,434 plus another $43,000 in disgorgement with interest without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings.
Coinschedule.com alongside other ICO review sites like ICO Rating, ICO Check etc., ranked top as the destination for investors looking to make gains from crypto projects floating their crowdfunding during the mad craze of ICOs. Coinschedule.com operated between 2016 and 2019, with many of its visitors accessing from the United States. Coinschedule provided “trust scores” for more than 2,500 ICOs, a signal interpreted by visitors as “credibility” and “operational risk” of each offering using a “proprietary algorithm.” However, according to the SEC:
“In reality, the token issuers paid Coinschedule to profile their token offerings on Coinschedule.com, a fact that Coinschedule failed to disclose to visitors.”
According to the SEC, Coinschedule cannot feign ignorance to its laws especially after the watchdog had published its 2017 DAO Report warning that ICOs may be securities, mandating those who promote initial coin offerings to comply with federal securities laws.
Speaking on the sanction fine, Kristina Littman, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit, said taking money for favourable coverage of securities was prohibited.
“The securities law prohibiting touting securities for compensation without appropriate disclosures to investors is clear and longstanding.”
Meanwhile, even though the SEC continues to bring to book those who had floated ICOs in the past like Kin, Telegram and more, not every official of the watchdog seems happy with SEC’s latest ruling. SEC commissioners Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman wrote a letter criticizing the commission for adopting a rather blanket approach to this decision. Their argument was that the SEC failed to explain which specific digital assets touted by Coinschedule were actually securities.
The duo described the omission as “symptomatic of our reluctance to provide additional guidance about how to determine whether a token is being sold as part of a securities offering or which tokens are securities.”
“There is a decided lack of clarity for market participants around the application of the securities laws to digital assets and their trading, as is evidenced by the requests each of us receives for clarity and the consistent outreach to the Commission staff for no-action and other relief.”
The SEC continues its enforcement moves even long after some of the erring companies have gone out of business. Last year, the SEC seized $4.68 billion — more than a quarter of which came from cryptocurrency-related firms.