Business 23 October 2018Dennis Wafula
Crypto trading firm draws SEC’s ire over false claims
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suspended trading of the securities of American Retail Group Inc. The firm, which is also known as Simex Inc, had made false claims that its cryptocurrency trading activities were approved by the SEC. The company also claimed that it had partnered with a crypto custodian who had been approved by the securities regulator.
According to the SEC’s order, in August 2018, the company published two press releases in which the company stated that it had partnered with an SEC-qualified custodian dor use with crypto transactions “under SEC Regulations.” The company had also released statements claiming that it was holding token offering that was “officially registered in accordance [with] SEC requirements.”
Robert Cohen, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division Cyber Unit, noted that the SEC, as an authority, does not endorse or qualify cryptocurrency custodians. In a statement, Cohen urged investors to exercise caution when trading in the crypto space as well as “when considering an investment in an initial coin offering.”
The suspension comes after the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) expressed concerns about the increasing number of companies making false claims. The companies claim that they have been given the green light by authorities.
According to current laws, the SEC can suspend trading on any firm for ten days, or until the company meets reporting requirements.
The authorities issued an investor alert on these agencies and warned the public against trading with such companies. The warning explained that fraudulent individuals have been using the SEC and the CFTC seals in order to lure investors into their scams. The alert further noted that these individuals are also impersonating officials from both authorities and asking investors to pay fees on any transaction. The authorities stated that they neither demand payment for any transaction nor endorse any investment, products or services.
In the last few months, financial regulators have tightened regulations to curb criminal activities in the crypto space. In April, the SEC temporarily suspended trading in IBITX Software Inc. on charges of not complying with regulations. Earlier this month, authorities issued cease and desist orders to three firms that were found to have been offering unregistered and fraudulent securities in the form of ICOs. One of the companies, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd., falsely claimed to have been given approval by the SEC.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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