The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday said it has charged five individuals for promoting a global unregistered digital asset securities offering that raised over $2 billion from retail investors.
BitConnect allegedly organized a global network of promoters through referral commissions and used the network to sell the securities without registering them as required by federal securities laws, the SEC said.
“We allege that these defendants unlawfully sold unregistered digital asset securities by actively promoting the Bitconnect lending program to retail investors,” said Lara Shalov Mehraban, associate regional director of SEC’s New York office. “We will seek to hold accountable those who illegally profit by capitalizing on the public’s interest in digital assets.”
The agency alleged Trevon Brown, Craig Grant, Ryan Maasen, and Michael Noblewere among the promoters advertising to prospective investors through YouTube videos.
Counsel for the individuals could not immediately be determined.
The agency also charged Joshua Jeppesen, who represented the company at conferences and acted a liaison between BitConnect and promoters. Jeppesen’s attorney did not respond immediately to call for comment.
BitConnect told investors it would use their funds to trade in and profit from the volatility of Bitcoin and promised to pay investors the resulting profits, which BitConnect promised could be as high as approximately 40% per month, the SEC said in its charges.
The SEC has taken the position that initial coin offerings are securities offerings and therefore subject to the agency’s offering rules, which require companies to file registration and disclosure documents.
Sources: Reuters, Coindesk