The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), an international task force that is tasked with tackling securities violations in the cryptocurrency industry, on August 28 announced that it has opened active investigations into over 200 initial coin offerings (ICOs) and crypto-related investment products.
First launched in May, the operation – referred to as “Operation Cryptosweep” – has been targeting a number of suspicious crypto investment products. It is composed of regulators from the United States and Canada which makes it the largest coordinated investigation by state and provincial officials. It has also already seen through 47 enforcement actions against ICOs and cryptocurrency investment funds in the U.S. and Canada, something that has earned its praise from Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The violations the operation has uncovered range from securities fraud to failure to properly register products before offering access to investors.
According to NASAA president and Alabama Securities Commission director Joseph Borg, the regulatory operation continues to commit significant resources to ensure that retail investors are protected. This is especially because many cryptocurrency advocates and financial watchdogs are split on how the ICOs and crypto firms should be regulated. NASAA’s contribution is, therefore, one of the best developments in the sector since other than protecting the retail investors, it will also serve to raise awareness among industry participants in regards to their regulatory obligations and 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,” Joseph Borg added.
Do Your Homework, Investors Told
As it stands, NASAA is the oldest international organization whose main focus is investor protection – it is based on voluntary association and boasts of 67 member states, provinces and territories across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. However, despite its far-reaching capabilities in handling irregularities in the crypto within the mentioned areas, there still needs to be some element of support from other stakeholders.
The operations president has highlighted the need for ICOs to register with the appropriate agencies or, if possible, contact regulators to check whether they qualify for exemptions or not. He further warned investors against dealing with ICO promoters claiming their products is exempt from securities registration unless of course, the claim is verifiable.
“Do your homework and contact your state or provincial securities regulator with any concerns before parting with your hard-earned money — afterward may be too late,” he pointed out.