Business 12 September 2018

Paul How

US securities regulator cracks down on 2 crypto funds

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued separate cease-and-desist orders for two unregistered cryptocurrency-based funds.

One order was filed against Crypto Asset Mnagement LP (CAM) and its founder Timothy Enneking. The other order was filed against TokenLot LLC and its two owners Lenny Kugel and Eli Lewitt.

According to the SEC, CAM’s subsidiary Crypto Asset Fund LLC (CAF) “has never been registered with the Commission in any capacity.” The order included a $200,000 fine to be paid in installments over a period of 300 days.

Enneking’s company had about $37 million in assets under its management, as of end-2017, and had raised $3.6 million from 44 investors in at least 15 states last year.

“Although CAF met the definition of ‘investment company’ during the Relevant Period, it did not register with the Commission as an investment company, meet any statutory exemptions or exclusions from the definition of an investment company, or seek an order from the Commission declaring that it was primarily engaged in a business other than that of investing, reinvesting, owning, holding, or trading in securities,” the order read.

The SEC also took exception to the claim made by CAF that it was the “first regulated crypto asset fund in the United States,” and that it had a registration statement with the commission. “Respondents failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the accuracy of these statements before disseminating them to actual and potential investors,” the SEC said.

CNBC reported Enneking reacting to the charges, saying that the issue was “old news… We have been fully in compliance with the SEC since shortly after they let us know they had concerns about two passages on our website.”

In its other order, the SEC said that TokenLot’s owners Kugel and Lewitt had issued some 40 tokens, earning about $344,000 from two separate sales, all without registering with the SEC. The company and its owners were fined $478,989, to be paid over a period of 360 days, plus a $45,000 fine each for Kugel and Lewitt.

The SEC has been vigilant in ensuring cryptocurrency-related companies are properly registered with the commission, as a means of deterring scams such as that allegedly perpetrated by Maksim Zaslavskiy, who is being charged with defrauding about 1,000 investors who had bought his ‘REcoin’ and ‘Diamond’ products but were not provided these. An investigation by the commission revealed Zaslavskiy had not developed any cryptocurrencies as claimed.

The SEC also recently suspended for 10 days the trading of two exchange-traded notes (ETNs) that tracked BTC and ETH respectively, due to reported “confusion amongst market participants.”

The SEC has also so far not approved any applications for cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs), on concerns that these would be vulnerable to fraud and manipulation.

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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