The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced that there are “more than 200 active investigations” by state or provincial-level agencies into initial coin offerings (ICOs) and other crypto-related investment products.
NASAA, composed of securities regulators from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Mexico, said in a press release Tuesday that its ongoing Operation Cryptosweep has now expanded to 200 investigations in the U.S. and Canada, and has already resulted in 47 different enforcement actions over the past few months. Violations found to date range from securities fraud to startups failing to properly register their products prior to offering access to investors.
NASAA president and Alabama Securities Commission director Joseph Borg said in a statement that regulators “are committing significant … 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.”
“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. Sponsors of these products should seek the advice of knowledgeable legal counsel to ensure they do not run afoul of the law. Furthermore, a strong culture of compliance should be in place before, not after, these products are marketed to investors.”
Borg also reminded investors to conduct their own research prior to purchasing any tokens, noting that any 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” should be treated with caution.
As previously reported, Operation Cryptosweep was first announced in May 2018, when regulators in Canada and the U.S. said they were investigating more than 70 crypto-related startups for potential securities law violations. At the time, there were “35 pending or completed enforcement actions.”