Australian Regulator Warns Retail Investors against “Misleading” Cryptocurrency ICOs
Australia’s top financial regulator, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission has issued a press release warning the public against “misleading” Initial Coin Offerings and Cryptocurrency Asset Management schemes targeted at individual investors.
Beware of Fake ICOs
According to the press release, since April, the ASIC has successfully halted five ICO projects and issued a stop order to a Product Disclosure Statement for the New Dawn Fund operated by Investors Exchange Limited.
The ASIC stopped the ICO projects due to lack of appropriate investor protection protocols. However, the Commission plans to restructure some of these ICOs to meet the required legal standards.
Speaking on the Commission’s main concerns with cryptocurrency projects, John Price, the ASIC Commissioner had this to say:
If you raise money from the public, you have important legal obligations. It is the legal substance of your offer – not what it is called – that matters. You should not simply assume that using an ICO structure allows you to ignore key protections there for the investing public and you should always ensure disclosure about your offer is complete and accurate.
The press release goes further to list common identifiers of questionable offerings and crypto-asset fund schemes. These include the use of misleading marketing material, illegally operated and unlicensed investment schemes.
The Commission advises potential investors to educate themselves properly before investing in ICOs. According to the release, investors can consult with MoneySmart (a website run by the Commission to offer financial guidance to the public) to gain adequate information on ICOs.
The Global Trend of Cryptocurrency Regulations
Where countries like China, Algeria and Bangladesh have taken to ban ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges completely, other countries such as the US, Thailand and South Korea have shown a more positive attitude, choosing instead to regulate the cryptocurrency and digital asset industry.
In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has become actively involved in regulating the cryptocurrency market to safeguard investors. The SEC currently maintains a fake ICO (HoweyCoin) website to educate investors on how to identify fraudulent ICOs. When users try to invest in the sale, they are redirected to the Commission’s page containing information on how investors can identify fraudulent offerings.
On the Asian Continent, South Korea and Thailand have also taken to regulating the crypto market space. EWN earlier reported South Korea Government’s plan to control cryptocurrency exchanges in the same manner as, commercial banks. Meanwhile, in Thailand, authorities recently approved seven crypto exchanges for legal operations in the country.