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Vitalik Buterin
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12.10.18
Articles

SEC Tightens ICO-Funded Startups Policy

The Securities and Exchange Commission started carrying out more activities, prosecuting the ICO-funded companies during the past few months, Yahoo Finance reports.
As it is known, the SEC initiated investigation into ICO area, sending initial information-seeking subpoenas to a number of companies in the beginning of 2018. Several months later, the SEC has not only started considering the same issue again, but also sent initial information-seeking subpoenas to many other start-ups. The main claim is that the companies failed to properly ensure they sold the tokens only to accredited investors.
Yahoo Finance together with Decrypt Media talked to more than 15 industry’s representatives and found out that several dozens of companies had agreed to refund the investors and pay a fee without wide-ranging coverage. At the same time, other start-ups claim that they are up in the air because they do not understand how they can comply with SEC’s requirements and how the others solve this issue.
The names of the interlocutors (some of them are employees of companies under investigation and others are their lawyers) are not revealed, because all of them are restricted by SEC in terms of disclosure of information.
ICO as an alternative to venture investment methods of fundraising reached the peak of its popularity in 2017, however, most of companies did not launch working products.
The number of the ICOs that have been held during the last years differ. Thus, ICO Alert has tracked 5 000 companies, but only 3400 of them are displayed as “legit”. On the other hand, the media outlet CoinDesk tells about 800 ICO projects held during the two last years.
Elementus company published a research in September, according to it, the projects have raised more than $28,4 billion. However, regulation ambiguity had a chilling effect on market participants.
The main problem for any company is whether the tokens issued are securities or not. If they are, there is one more issue: has such a company registered its offering with the SEC or is its ICO qualified for an exemption?
As for the Commission itself, its position is the following: almost all the ICOs are qualified as securities offerings, and it does not matter how the startups call them, it might be either SAFT concept or any other mechanism.