The days of abusing these buzz words for instant market gain is coming to an end.
These days, it’s quite evident: if you want your company’s stocks to shoot up, just add the words “blockchain,” “bitcoin,” or “cryptocurrency” to your sales pitch. The term ICO (initial coin offering) has also been thrown around to lure in investors without having to be legally bound to delivery of any promises.
The growing trend has been fruitful for many, with shares rising exponentially in value with this simple tweak. Whether they will pull it off is an entirely different conversation—most of them won’t. But without tripping on any existing legal lines, they have efficiently and “legally” instigated a pump and dump with no consequences in sight. Consequently, frauds and exits scams have become rampant.
The SEC is looking into the nipping this in the bud.
Blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies that come with them have opened up an entire industry—one that legislation is still catching up with. And the SEC is throttling closely behind: last month, they froze trading of shares for The Crypto Company—whose shares soared 2,700% as soon as they brokered a contract to acquire a cryptocurrency data platform, after suspicions of inadequate disclosure and manipulative transactions rose.
And now, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton says they have their sights on “overnight blockchain companies”—companies that ride in on the blockchain and cryptocurrency bandwagon to take advantage of market excitement.
“The SEC is looking closely at the disclosures of public companies that shift their business models to capitalize on the perceived promise of distributed ledger technology and whether the disclosures comply with the securities laws, particularly in the case of an offering,” Clayton said in a conference.
Those taking advantage of ICO’s are not off the hook either, as the SEC is also on their back.
“I have instructed the SEC staff to be on high alert for approaches to ICOs that may be contrary to the spirit of our securities laws and the professional obligations of the U.S. securities bar,” Clayton said.