Thailand’s securities regulator is planning a public hearing with the aim of loosening rules that form a “barrier” to initial coin offerings (ICOs), local English-language news outlet Bangkok Post reported Dec. 20.

Thailand — which issued a royal decree to regulate its domestic cryptocurrency markets in May — had revealed its intention to license its first ICO portal in November and an ICO itself this month.

Now, rules for issuers to begin fundraising may become less strict, although there will be caps on participation.

“The proposed guideline is an attempt to find greater equilibrium in the regulatory process and reduce regulatory impediments, while taking risk management and investor protection into account,” the Post quotes Tipsuda Thavaramara, general secretary of the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as saying:

“The proposed criteria may not be fully completed, but it is a starting point for businesses to proceed accordingly.”

The plans come at a troublesome time for the ICO industry worldwide. In the United States, regulators have clamped down on legal adherence in recent months, last month fining several well-known cryptocurrency businesses for failing to comply with securities laws.

Barry Silbert, founder and CEO of blockchain-focused investment giant Digital Currency Group, told mainstream media earlier this month that the ICO market was “dead” and “finished.”

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Russian lawmakers have revised another bill regarding the regulation of the industry built around cryptocurrencies. In its latest version, the draft law on crowdfunding sets the maximum amount of money ordinary Russians will be permitted to invest in projects such as ICOs at less than $9,000 per year.     

Also read: Lawyers to Help the Russian Crypto Industry Deal With Inadequate Laws

Investments Limited to $1,500 per Project

Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per YearThe bill “On attracting investments using investment platforms” is one of the three pieces of legislation aimed at regulating the crypto industry that were adopted on first reading by the State Duma in May. The initial text approved by the lower house of Russia’s parliament did not contain such limits. It only read that they should be determined in sub-statutory acts issued by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR).

According to the revamped draft law, private individuals will be allowed to invest through crowdfunding platforms up to 600,000 Russian rubles (less than $9,000) per year only, and a maximum of 100,000 rubles (~$1,500) per project RBC reported, quoting a copy of the document. Any investment exceeding 600,000 rubles, made by qualified investors or financial institutions, will be subject to mandatory oversight by the country’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, in order to prevent money laundering.

The new restrictions will limit the access of ordinary citizens to initial coin offerings (ICOs). The authorities in Moscow claim they want to protect Russians from the associated risks. In a statement, the CBR warned that investing through crowdfunding platforms can lead to the loss of all invested funds. However, the limits will not apply to social and charitable crowdfunding initiatives.

No Restrictions for ‘Qualified’ Investors

Russians to Be Allowed ICO Investments up to $9,000 per YearProfessional investors will not be restricted in their participation in crowdfunding projects. Private individuals can be treated as “qualified investors” provided they meet certain criteria detailed in the federal law “On the securities market.” For example, they must control assets worth at least 6 million rubles (almost $90,000) and prove they have been employed in the securities industry for at least two years.

The revised crowdfunding bill is likely to be voted on second reading in the Duma in January revealed one of its authors, the chairman of the Financial Markets Committee Anatoly Aksakov. Before the parliamentary summer vacation, deputies approved two other drafts – a bill amending the country’s Civil Code to introduce a legal definition of “digital rights” and the main draft pertaining to the regulation of cryptocurrencies, the law “On digital financial assets.”

The latter bill also underwent serious revision, with lawmakers dropping key terms like “cryptocurrency” and “mining.” Representatives of the crypto industry protested and proposed an alternative bill granting cryptocurrencies “special status.” However, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov recently stated that authorities do not plan to introduce any more significant amendments to the texts. The crowdfunding law has also lost important terms related to the crypto economy such as “tokens” and “smart contracts.”

What is your opinion about the investment limits in the revised Russian draft law on crowdfunding? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

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Republican Congressman Warren Davidson, an avowed bitcoin adn blockchain fan, plans to introduce federal legislation that will regulate initial coin offerings (ICO) and cryptocurrencies.

The bill would create an “asset class” for tokens, which would prevent them from “being classified as securities, but would also allow the federal government to regulate initial coin offerings more effectively,” Cleveland.com reported.

Davidson made the announcement at a four-day blockchain conference in Cleveland that featured Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin.

Republicans — who generally oppose regulation — have been leading the pro-crypto charge in Washington by demanding more clarity on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s plans to regulate virtual currencies like bitcoin, though crypto has found support from across the political spectrum.

In a September 2018 letter to SEC chairman Jay Clayton, 12 Republicans and two Democrats urged the agency to spell out how exactly it plans to regulate crypto.

Congressman Davidson — a member of the House Financial Services Committee — was among the signatories.

The House Financial Services Committee oversees the SEC, as well as the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and other US financial services regulators.

‘Light Touch’ Approach to Crypto Laws

In August 2018, Rep. Davidson invited 32 cryptocurrency companies to Capitol Hill for a summit to discuss ICO regulation, as CCN reported.

During the bipartisan roundtable discussion, Davidson underscored the importance of avoiding overly restrictive laws that would impede innovation.

“Tapping the potential ICO’s offer requires a law that provides a simple but clear ‘light-touch’ approach,” he said.

While laws are being discussed, the SEC has moved forward with sweeping crackdowns on sham ICOs and crypto fraud schemes, as CCN reported.

Pro-Crypto Wheels Already In Motion

Meanwhile, there are a lot of wheels in motion in Washington, D.C. geared toward promoting the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.

In September 2018, Republican Congressman Tom Emmer introduced three bills that will support the development of crypto and blockchain, the technology underpinning bitcoin.

The three bills are:

  1. Resolution Supporting Digital Currencies and Blockchain Technology.
  2. Blockchain Regulatory Certainty Act.
  3. Safe Harbor for Taxpayers with Forked Assets Act.

Emmer — who is co-chairman of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus — said the United States should prioritize the development of blockchain and create an environment that will enable the private sector to lead on innovation.

“This is an exciting time for blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies,” said Emmer. “Legislators should be embracing emerging technologies and providing a clear regulatory system that allows them to flourish in the United States.”

Along with the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a pro-crypto lobbying group was recently launched in Washington, D.C. by three of the biggest cryptocurrency companies in the United States: Coinbase, Circle, and the Digital Currency Group.

These developments are clear signs that the industry is taking definitive action to promote the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin Evangelists Favor Targeted Regulation

Over the past few months, the SEC and the CFTC have issued statements warning investors about the potential for fraud and price manipulation in the crypto market.

Crypto evangelists — like the Winklevoss twins and Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz — support appropriate federal oversight, saying regulatory scrutiny will legitimize the industry by stamping out scam artists.

“Weeding out the bad actors is a good thing, not a bad thing, for the health of the market,” Novogratz said.

cameron tyler winklevoss bitcoin
Bitcoin bulls the Winklevoss twins: Some regulation is good for crypto. | Source: Shutterstock

Tyler Winklevoss, the CEO of New York-based cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, agrees.

“These technologies can’t flourish and grow without thoughtful regulation that connects them to finance,” Winklevoss said. “As long as jurisdictions strike the right balance, we think that it’s going to be a huge boon and win for cryptocurrencies.”

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U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R) has announced plans to introduce legislation that would clearly regulate cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), local Ohio news agency Cleveland.com reports Dec. 3.

According to Cleveland.com, Davidson announced his intention to introduce new legislation at the Blockchain Solutions conference. The bill would create an “asset class” for cryptocurrencies and digital assets, which “would prevent them from being classified as securities, but would also allow the federal government to regulate initial coin offerings more effectively.”

This development would bring clarity to U.S. crypto regulation. Currently, state regulatory agencies classify tokens differently in ways that place them under their jurisdiction.

The Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) stance is that most cryptocurrencies are securities. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), on the other hand, treats cryptocurrencies as commodities.

In other words, the CFTC states that Bitcoin (BTC) has more in common with gold than with currencies or securities since it is not backed by a government and does not have liabilities attached to it. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), the agency managing anti-money laundering (AML) and know your client (KYC) standards, views crypto as money.

The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic sanctions, views crypto as money and blacklists wallets of sanctioned persons. Lastly, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treats cryptocurrencies as property, meaning that profits from selling them are subject to capital gains tax.

A group of U.S. Congressional representatives sent a letter in September to the SEC Chairman Jay Clayton calling for “clearer guidelines between those digital tokens that are securities, and those that are not.”

The same month, over 45 representatives of major crypto companies and Wall Street firms attended a Congressional roundtable discussion on cryptocurrency and ICO regulation. During meeting, which was hosted by Davidson, experts expressed concerns about a lack of regulatory clarity in the industry and discussed “token taxonomy.”

Davidson has previously demonstrated his support for the crypto industry, suggesting that the ICO market needs “light touch” regulation. A spokesman for the U.S. representative said in November that Davidson is working on a bill that, once law, would treat ICOs as products rather than securities at the federal and state level, effectively “sidestepping” security laws.

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, seven Ohio funds will hand over $300 million to blockchain startups by the end of 2021. Of this money, $100 million will be invested by nonprofit JumpStart.

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International cooperation is essential for eradicating ICO fraud, said Steven Peikin, co-director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division.

Peikin made the remarks during a December 3 speech at Harvard Law School’s Program on International Financial Systems, where he discussed the astonishing growth of the ICO market.

“The sponsors of ICOs are, in many instances, located outside the United States,” Peikin said. “And international cooperation is critical to our ability to investigate and, where appropriate, recommend that the Commission bring enforcement action.”

ICOs Have Spiked 22,000% Since 2016

Peikin noted that the ICO market has “exploded from a mere concept to a phenomenon” in just a few short years.

In 2016, ICOs raised less than $100 million. In 2018, that figure skyrocketed to more than $22 billion — a spike of 22,000%. With that rapid growth has come a massive increase in fraudulent activity.

Complicating matters for regulators is that the money raised in initial coin offerings often comes from investors both inside and outside the United States.

Peikin noted that the novelty of ICOs — coupled with the excitement surrounding blockchain technology — makes them an alluring vehicle for investors. This exuberance can sometimes blind them to the risks associated with this nascent asset class, he warned.

Peikin: ‘Some ICOs are Outright Frauds’

“The growth in the ICO market can obscure the fact that these offerings are often high-risk investments,” Peikin said. “The issuers may lack established track records. They may not have viable products, business models, or the capacity for safeguarding digital currencies from theft by hackers. And some of the offerings can be simply outright frauds.”

Steven Peikin then alluded to the example of PlexCoin founder Dominic Lacroix, a Canadian citizen who fleeced as much as $15 million from thousands of US investors for his sham ICO by promising a 13-fold profit in less than a month.

The SEC learned from Canadian authorities that Lacroix had a long history of running similar financial scams in Quebec.

ico scams
The SEC launched a sweeping crackdown on ICO and cryptocurrency fraud in 2018. (Image: Pixabay)

In May 2018, US and Canadian regulators launched over 70 investigations into cryptocurrency scams and fraudulent initial coin offerings as part of a wide-ranging crackdown called “Operation Crypto Sweep.”

As CCN reported, the North American Securities Administrators Association sent cease-and-desist letters to operators of sham crypto companies in more than 40 jurisdictions across the United States and Canada.

Operation Crypto Sweep Targets Scams

Operation Crypto Sweep came shortly after a finding that fraud was alarmingly widespread among crypto investment promoters.

Securities attorneys have also warned celebrities who endorse ICOs that they could be sued for aiding and abetting fraud if they promote sham crypto products.

Last week, that warning turned into a rude awakening for boxing champ Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled, when they were fined a combined $767,500 by the SEC for illegally promoting ICOs.

These regulatory crackdowns — combined with the current bear market — have led some industry insiders to declare that the ICO market is dead.

“The ICO market is dead — over,” said Barry Silbert, founder of crypto investment fund Digital Currency Group. “You now have the lack of demand from ICOs. And you have all the sponsors of the ICOs who raised a bunch of bitcoin [and ether] that are now starting to sell that.”

Even though he believes that ICO mania is over, Silbert remains bullish about the future of the cryptocurrency industry, and he called the current market downturn an “awkward transition” that will pass.

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One of Israel’s leading entrepreneurs in the cryptocurrency field, Moshe Hogeg, is facing accusations of embezzling funds raised from two Initial Coin Offerings consequently rendering the company for which the funds were raised for insolvent.

As a result, 17 individuals who claim to be shareholders of IDC Investdotcom Holdings, the company associated with Hogeg and which is more popularly known as Invest.com, have filed a petition seeking to liquidate the firm. A temporary liquidator has subsequently been appointed by a court in Tel Aviv, according to The Times of Israel.

With the 17 individuals all being ex-shareholders of AnyOption, a binary options firm which is now defunct, the petition has highlighted the close ties that exist between Israel’s thriving cryptocurrency sector and the binary options industry which was recently outlawed in the Middle Eastern country.

Registered in Cyprus, Operates from Israel

Though IDC Investdotcom Holdings is registered in Cyprus, the petitioners have alleged that it was largely run from Israel. After tens of millions of dollars were raised during two successful ICOs, the petitioners allege that Hogeg failed to share the proceeds but instead put the money to his own use.

This year Hogeg has been in the news for various multi-million dollar purchases and donations including a parcel of land he bought in Tel Aviv at US$19 million and the Israeli top soccer club Beitar Jerusalem which he acquired at a price of US$7.2 million. Hogeg also recently donated US$1.9 million to Tel Aviv University to put up a blockchain research facility named in his honor.

The blockchain entrepreneur’s ownership of Invest.com is through his venture capital firm Singulariteam. Other firms in the portfolio of Singulariteam include Sirin Labs which is known for the US$1,000 blockchain smartphone known as ‘Finney’.

Merger Agreement

Per the petition, AnyOption and Invest.com merged last year in June after it emerged that the former could no longer continue in the binary options business as Israel was planning to ban the sector. Terms of the merger agreement were however changed this year in February with shareholders of AnyOption now entitled to receive US$3.5 million from Invest.com and shares of Stox, a cryptocurrency firm that had been launched.

One of the ICOs which the petitioners claim became the victim of embezzlement was conducted last year in August when Stox held a crowd fundraising event where ETH worth US$34 million was raised though the value later rose to US$60 million. Stox also did another ICO in February this year for a project known as Zodiac where US$33 million was reportedly raised according to the petition.

The petitioners now claim that this amount never benefitted Invest.com but was instead embezzled by Hogeg leading to the current insolvency. Invest.com has, however, denied allegations that it is insolvent.

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ICOs might be the most popular way to raise funds in the crypto industry, but their fame could be short-lived. The potential market for security tokens is enormous, with estimates for the broader transition of financial assets to blockchain valued at up to US$24 trillion, the South China Morning Post reported on November 26, 2018.

Future Of Fundraising

According to a comprehensive token report by Fabric Ventures, 58 percent of all ICOs in 2018 failed to raise capital, disappeared, or refunded participants.

And while it might seem that there’s a bleak future ahead for the crypto industry, the decline of ICOs has actually opened a door to a new type of token offering, one that might be what changes the industry from the ground up.

Security tokens are cryptographic tokens that share the profits, pay dividends or interest to the token holder based on an underlying asset, such as shares, bonds, real estate, or art collections. Nasdaq predicts that 2019 will belong to STOs as they’ll attract significant amounts of Wall Street money.

This type of tokens, unlike utility tokens, can be traded beyond the issuer’s platform, and solve the problem venture capital has when it comes to liquidizing private assets. The tokens also provide access to compliance features to issuers, and a framework for oversight to regulators, Nasdaq explained.

The notion of security tokens and other tokenized financial assets has gathered significant interest throughout 2017, as estimates have shown that the broader transition of traditional financial assets to the blockchain could be valued as much as $24 trillion.

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STOs Benefit Both Investors and Regulators

The future of security tokens is heavily dependant on the structure of the regulatory environment in which they’re issued. And while regulation surrounding STOs is still unclear in many jurisdictions, the tokens might act as a natural bridge between traditional finance, the blockchain, and financial regulators.

According to the South China Morning Post, ICOs are viewed as a regulatory grey area in the U.S., with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commenting several times that most are indicative of security offerings.

However, STOs provide a much more practical concept for regulators to approach, as they allow compliance measures such as KYC and AML to be made transparent. Compliance costs for financial regulations can be enormous, reaching millions of dollars in many instances. Blockchains offer a viable alternative for determining ownership, compliance, and the status of tokens on their network through efficient mechanisms.

In Asia, Singapore and Taiwan have already shown promising signs of becoming regulatory incubators for digital assets, and Hong Kong has raised its head above the parapet with the SFC recently releasing a circular stating their stance on digital assets. One of the most notable breakthroughs made is that platform operators can apply to enter the SFC and gain a license if they offer one or more security tokens.

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Opting to take the view ICOs are a form of fraud, speculation or gambling, the Korean government initiated a ban on the investment vehicle last September, one that sparked a strong backlash from domestic blockchain startups.

Still, some Korean lawmakers from the opposition party have piggybacked on these concerns and are advocating for the legalization of ICOs. In a situation where the incumbent government is struggling with economic issues, including a decline in employment and skyrocketing housing prices, it’s perhaps natural the opposition party would rally behind an emerging technology to try to establish an innovative image for itself.

However, Min Byung-doo is one member of the ruling Minjoo Party who has spoken out in favor of ICOs through a query submitted to the government, an unusual step for a prominent figure in the ruling party in that it doesn’t square with the government or Blue House line.

But not only is Min a leading figure, he is the Chairman of the National Policy Committee, considered the first hurdle to clear for those hoping to enact legislation on ICOs or cryptocurrency exchanges.

In an interview with CoinDesk Korea, Min expressed his thoughts on ICOs, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain industry, and their outlook in South Korea.

CoinDesk Korea: Why do you think ICOs should be permitted?

Min Byung-doo: There are some positive aspects to the regulations implemented by the government over the past year. A lot of the bubbles have burst and people have realized that this is not a market they should be recklessly rushing into. The laws have served as a big preventive injection, so even if the regulations on ICOs and exchanges were repealed, I don’t think people would be jumping into these markets without careful consideration. I think the vaccine has succeeded, and it’s now time to open up the market.

A number of countries including Switzerland, Malta, Estonia and Singapore have recently tried to bring ICOs within the boundaries of existing institutional frameworks, as well as France, who recently passed a new law. It seems that many countries have started focusing on the potential of ICOs.

Over the last two years, the total funds raised through ICOs were far higher than the figures for venture capital or angel investment. The trend is changing. All around the world, people are applying for blockchain-related patents and trying to come up with new business models. They believe that a new coin will emerge that takes things to the next level, and we have no reason to stand in the way of that possibility.

Anyone can found a unicorn (a company valued at more than $1 billion) or decacorn (a company valued at more than $10 billion) by making use of public blockchains. A dominating platform will eventually emerge in this market, and Korea shouldn’t miss out on that opportunity.

The problem is that even though this opportunity exists, the government is still blocking ICOs on the grounds that they could lead to ‘fraud, speculation or money laundering.’

CoinDesk Korea: The Office for Government Policy Coordination (OGPC) is expected to release the government’s official position on ICOs in November, but Financial Services Commission head Choi Jong-gu remains opposed to ICOs.

Min Byung-doo: The OGPC and FSC reached agreement in a special consultative meeting, and both have a negative view of ICOs. It seems that the government is satisfied with the regulatory measures they put in place between last October and January, and believes that regulating is their duty.

Whether the government releases a new set of regulations on ICOs (in November) or not, they will need to listen to a wide range opinions from the industry and justify their decision with some solid evidence. And if Korea’s blockchain industry fails to develop because of this, the government should be held accountable.

CoinDesk Korea: Some bills on blockchain have already been submitted to the National Assembly.

Min Byung-doo: Some of those bills are close to an outright ban on ICOs, while others are wholeheartedly devoted to promoting them. People have vastly different views on this issue. I think we are quickly running out of time.

Once the National Assembly’s regular session finishes, lawmakers will start looking towards next year’s general election and getting ready to campaign. The fact that the National Assembly is ignoring the desperate messages being sent by the industry is a big problem.

CoinDesk Korea: If the chairman of the National Policy Committee is in favor of ICOs, does that increase the chances that the committee will pass a law on this issue?

Min Byung-doo: Personally, I am strongly committed to this, and I hope that other lawmakers will bring their own expertise to the table and approach this issue with a strong sense of commitment as well. The FSC seems to be having a difficult time. The NPC is the committee in charge of this issue, so when I am speaking out in favor of ICOs and several dozen lawmakers have also made their voices heard through a series of debates, it places a lot of pressure on the government.

The government seems to feel a heavy burden when it comes to enacting laws or guidelines. I think they are afraid that enacting a law might come across as a tacit endorsement of crypto assets.

If you want to legislate, there is no need to enact a series of detailed provisions. You just need to focus on three key areas: the basic nature of the assets involved, duties and oversight. How should regulation differ depending on the nature of the asset? How can the government crack down on problems such as fraud, speculation and money laundering? How can regulations be used to guarantee the security of exchanges? How will white papers be verified? Will analysts be required to release regular reports? Which authority should be in charge of oversight? The only thing regulation needs to do is answer these questions.

An NPC-level public hearing or special meeting is expected to be held in November. The goal of this meeting is to hear what legal, financial and software experts have to say. Laws and guidelines should be as minimal as possible, but the deliberation prior to implementing such measures needs to be thorough and in-depth.

Accordingly, the National Assembly is planning to collate their views and urge the government to take action, whether that be through laws or guidelines.

CoinDesk Korea: Doesn’t the FSC or the Blue House hold the key when it comes to this issue?

Min Byung-doo: At present, the OGPC is the control tower that manages task forces on cryptocurrencies across all government departments. I am aware that some officials at the Blue House are also closely following this issue. It would be great if the president could just make a decision on this, but that is far from easy.

CoinDesk Korea: Bitcoin was created in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, while blockchain is rooted in the philosophy of decentralization. Isn’t it only natural that the government takes a negative view of such technology?

Min Byung-doo: I don’t think that cryptocurrencies would be able to avoid financial oversight. I don’t think that’s the case. I think the future brought about by decentralization or disintermediation would be bad at all.

Some governments may take a very passive stance while other countries will adopt a more active approach. But if some governments are actively trying to promote blockchain technology and this leads to the creation of globally dominant platforms like Amazon or Alipay, then will passive governments be able to stand in their way? If they can’t do anything in response, they will end up being colonized economically. Governments need to take action to ensure that they don’t get left behind in this competition.

CoinDesk Korea: What do you think of the ‘special blockchain zones’ being proposed by local governments such as Jeju?

Min Byung-doo: From the government’s perspective, there is no difference between permitting ICOs in special designated zones and allowing them across the whole country. Once the government has passed laws or guidelines, it will be possible for special zones to explore suitable models for development, but right now it is difficult to envision such a zone being granted special permission in advance.

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The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a warning about investing in nine digital tokens and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), which have not been accredited by the regulator, news outlet Bangkok Post reported Oct. 26.

The SEC reportedly initiated an investigation into digital tokens and ICOs being promoted on social media platforms for investment, and found nine cases wherein promoted digital assets had not been authorized by the market regulator.

Per the SEC, the alleged digital assets and ICOs have neither filed an application for the SEC’s approval, nor have they met the necessary qualifications and had smart contracts assessed by ICO portals. The SEC said that those who have invested in the alleged assets should be wary of associated investment risks.

The SEC reportedly reiterated a warning about Ponzi schemes that persuade people to invest in digital assets by promising investment returns generated from tokens. “Information disclosure for investment decision-making is also inadequate, while these digital assets might not have sufficient liquidity to trade and cannot be converted into cash,” the regulator added.

In August, the SEC said that almost 50 ICO projects expressed interest in becoming certified following the Finance Ministry’s announcement to introduce ICO regulations. The authorization process takes up to five months as upon submission of an application, the SEC will transfer the document to the Finance Ministry within 90 days. After that, the Ministry has 60 days to make a decision whether to approve a license.

Later that month, the SEC approved seven businesses to conduct cryptocurrency operations as part of the formalization of the country’s domestic market. The move forms part of a package of “transitional” rules governing crypto businesses operating in Thailand prior to the first tranche of regulations that came into force May 14.

The 100-section law defines cryptocurrencies as “digital assets and digital tokens,” and brought them under the regulatory jurisdiction of the SEC. Thai Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong reportedly assured that the new measures are not intended to prohibit cryptocurrencies or ICOs.

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An Initial coin Offering (ICO) conducted by an Australian crypto startup Global Tech Exchange (GTE) has ceased operations, citing the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) requirements, the company’s website reveals Monday, Oct. 22.

According to Business Insider Australia, the ICO was launched summer 2018 by GTE to create an an education-based trading and exchange platform and had a fundraising goal of $50 million.

The firm quickly gained popularity after being endorsed by Michael Clarke – a former Australian cricket captain and national celebrity. As of August, GTE cited him on its website as endorsing the project:

“I am really excited to be involved with Global Tech. Their ambition and drive is something that I resonated with straight away and I can’t wait to learn more about blockchain technologies.”

Clarke later posted the quotation to his Twitter account and was immediately warned by his followers about the general controversy surrounding ICOs.

The reasons behind the ICO’s closure remain unclear – ASIC has not yet commented on the matter following Business Insider’s request. On paper, the move appears instigated by GTE itself, which evidently voluntarily applied to the ASIC to deregister its ICO.

As per GTE’s website, the company has already returned all funds to investors. The statement also explicitly noted that Michael Clarke is “no longer associated with Global Tech Exchange and the Global Tech Exchange Blockchain education and awareness program.”

GTE’s ICO marks the sixth crypto crowdfunding project to be closed in Australia since April 2018. As Cointelegraph reported in September, ASIC revealed that the five other ICOs shut down before April were stopped due to a lack of required investor protection measures on part of the fundraisers in question.

However, only one of them was shut down permanently, while others needed to be restructured, the regulator noted.

This fall, ASIC has also revealed its plans to increase scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs to ensure any “threats of harm” from the nascent industry are mitigated under its regulatory scope.

This post is credit to cointelegraph