Business

Ed Drake

Italian regulator suspends crypto investment firm behind liracoin

Italian securities regulators have shut down the activities of a cryptocurrency investment firm and its corresponding cryptocurrency, in the latest enforcement action against companies operating in the sector.

La Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB) issued a notice of suspension to investment firm Tessline, covering its own activities as well as the promotion of its associated cryptocurrency, liracoin.

The notice, which covers several organizations linked to the firm, demanded the company terminates its violations of Italy’s Consolidated Law of Finance. In particular, CONSOB referenced Article 18, which sets out statutory obligations on finance companies under the direction of the regulator and Italy’s central bank.

The notice says that the regulator has formally suspended all activities involved in the offer and promotion of liracoin for the next 90 days, as well as removing the firm’s ability to promote investment products.

CONSOB has form for this kind of suspension, after serving up similar bans to two firms allegedly involved in cryptocurrency fraud. This came at the same time as the regulator was forced to issue a joint statement with the Financial Services Authority in Malta over the operation of unlicensed crypto exchanges in both territories.

The regulator has been sending cease and desist notices since November to a number of firms suspected of being involved in providing unlicensed investment services, with as many as three firms thought to have been caught in that round of enforcement action.

The move shows CONSOB tackling suspected abuse in the cryptocurrency sector head-on, at a time when regulators worldwide are tackling ever-rising levels of crypto-related fraud.

From unlicensed exchanges and unregistered securities to outright fraud and theft, CONSOB counterparts elsewhere in the world have faced similar challenges in reducing levels of criminality.

Tessline has previously been flagged by regulators for breaching compliance rules, including in Ireland, where the Central Bank of Ireland issued warnings about the unauthorized firm back in February.

The development further strengthens the case for more robust regulation and licensing in the cryptocurrency sector, with scammers finding it far too easy to defraud investors.

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