US SEC targets ICOs in massive cryptocurrency probe

US SEC targets ICOs in massive cryptocurrency probe

It had to happen sooner or later. According to information provided to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has initiated a federal investigation into several cryptocurrency-based businesses. The probe encompasses an undisclosed number of entities, as well as requests for information delivered to advisers and technology companies around the country.

The securities regulator is demanding information about pre-sales and sales surrounding Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). Since cryptocurrencies are not regulated as an industry, ICOs haven’t been classified the same as other public offerings, and have not been monitored the same, either. The investigations follow other inquiries by the SEC, which has indicated that ICOs may be in violation of existing securities laws.

Jay Clayton, chairman of the SEC, announced earlier this month that the agency would be cracking down on companies that “capitalize on the perceived promise” of increased stock values—in other words, overstating the possible returns to potential investors. Some cryptocurrency companies, such as Cherumbim Interests, Victura Construction Group and PDX Partners, have already been suspended over questionable practices.

Despite a crackdown at the federal level, more states are working toward the inclusion of digital currency into their policies. Wyoming has passed a law that exempts cryptocurrency from securities regulations as long as the provider meets certain requirements. Residents in the state would also be exempt from paying property taxes on cryptocurrencies if a bill introduced this month is approved.

Arizona has also introduced a bill in favor of cryptocurrencies. If approved by the Arizona House of Representatives, the bill will authorize residents to use crypto to pay state taxes and licenses. Arizona could be the first in the country to recognize cryptocurrencies as an authorized payment form at the state level.

Florida’s northern neighbor, Georgia, is also considering a similar bill to that of Arizona.  This week, a bill was introduced in the state Senate that would allow residents to pay for their taxes using cryptocurrencies. One possible disadvantage to the structure is how the cryptocurrency payments would be converted to dollars. The exchange could take place up to 24 hours after making a payment, meaning that any fluctuation in value could cause a difference in price, for or against the consumer.

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