Don’t be surprised if you’ll no longer see John McAfee tweeting about initial coin offerings (ICOs). On Monday, the cybersecurity entrepreneur announced on Twitter that he will no longer engage in promoting token crowdsales following what he described as “threats” from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In his tweet, McAfee described the “reality” of the pressure he was facing from the securities regulator, warning that “those doing ICOs can look forward to arrest.”
The computer programmer and entrepreneur wrote: “Due to SEC threats, I am no longer working with ICOs nor am I recommending them, and those doing ICOs can all look forward to arrest. It is unjust but it is reality. I am writing an article on an equivalent alternative to ICOs which the SEC cannot touch. Please have Patience.”
Due to SEC threats, I am no longer working with ICOs nor am I recommending them, and those doing ICOs can all look forward to arrest. It is unjust but it is reality. I am writing an article on an equivalent alternative to ICOs which the SEC cannot touch. Please have Patience.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) June 19, 2018
Famed for the ubiquitous antivirus software that carries his name, McAfee has built a reputation as a prominent supporter of cryptocurrencies, and laterally ICOs, involving himself in a number of promotions and recommendations.
Advocating the decentralised, broadly libertarian applications of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, McAfee has been notoriously bullish on cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology in general.
In March, McAfee announced that he’ll start charging $105,000 per tweet to promote cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Ultimately, his high profile endorsements have raised some eyebrows—particularly the authorities at the SEC.
The securities regulator helped bring some clarity to proceedings last week, confirming that it does not view cryptocurrencies like the BTC coin as securities. However, it confirmed that ICOs were considered securities within existing legal definitions, which would bring them within the regulatory remit of the SEC—a situation that could potentially leave promoters of unregulated ICOs on the hook.
With some promoters potentially acting as “unregistered brokers,” which would be illegal under current securities laws, McAfee’s warning comes amidst wider efforts from the regulator to clamp down on ICOs, not least because of the number of high profile frauds and scams to have been carried out in the space.
While McAfee remained light on the details of the “threats” issued by the SEC, it perhaps gives some indication of how the regulator intends to proceed with those that may be operating counter to their definition of securities laws.
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