The North American Securities Administrators Association has announced that more than 200 active investigations of Initial Coin Offerings and cryptocurrency-related investment products are currently underway by state and provincial securities regulators in the U.S. and Canada as part of the ongoing initiative “Operation Cryptosweep.”
Since its launch in May, this ongoing coordinated regulatory focus has resulted in 46 enforcement actions involving ICOs or cryptocurrency-related investment products.
“State and provincial securities regulators are committing significant regulatory resources to protect investors from financial harm involving fraudulent ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investment products and also are raising awareness among industry participants of their regulatory responsibilities,” NASAA President and Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg said in a statement.
While some of the enforcement investigations initiated as part of Operation Cryptosweep involve suspected securities fraud, regulators are finding many other potential violations of state and provincial securities laws, including failure to properly register a product before it was offered to investors.
“While not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is a fraud, it is important for individuals and firms selling these products to be mindful that they are not doing so in a vacuum; state and provincial laws or regulations may apply, especially securities laws,” Borg added. “If these products qualify as securities, they should be registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies or qualify for an exemption from registration. The registration process provides some protection for investors by subjecting the offering to regulatory review. But even registered offerings can be fraudulent. Investors therefore should perform their own thorough due diligence before investing in any ICO or cryptocurrency-related product.”
Borg warns to be cautious when dealing with promoters who claim their ICO offering is exempt from securities registration but do not ask about your income, net worth or level of investing sophistication.
NASAA is the voice of state securities agencies responsible for efficient capital formation and investor protection. Its voluntary membership consists of 67 state, provincial, and territorial securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Mexico.
Contact information for all state and provincial securities regulators is available here.