ASIC is blocking ICOs as its crypto crackdown starts to gather steam

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
  • ASIC has prevented five ICOs from launching in Australia since April.
  • The regulator was granted additional powers in April under Australian consumer law.
  • ASIC has also used regulatory powers established last September to halt a crypto-based managed investment scheme.

  • The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) announced today that it has nixed multiple attempts to launch initial coin offerings in Australia.

    ASIC said it has taken action to prevent five ICOs since April. There’s another ICO which did launch, and ASIC is taking further compliance action against that too.

    Crypto investors are also in the regulator’s sights. Last week, ASIC issued a final stop order against local fund manager Investors Exchange Limited (IEL), after it issued a product disclosure statement (PDS) concerning the purchase of units in the New Dawn fund, a crypto investment company.

    “Following ASIC raising concerns, IEL consented to a final stop order so that no units could be obtained under the PDS,” ASIC said.

    ASIC was granted new powers in April to take action against prospective ICOs under consumer law where there is evidence of misleading or deceptive conduct.

    That followed an announcement in September last year, where the regulator introduced guidelines on whether ICOs fit the description of a managed investment scheme (MIS).

    Any ICO which satisfies the criteria would then be subject to registration, licensing and disclosure requirements in accordance with the Corporations Act.

    In today’s statement, ASIC said misleading conduct and the illegal operation of managed investment schemes had both been identified as “consistent problems”.

    ASIC Commissioner John Price repeated similar statements made in April, where he warned prospective ICO issuers that they need to obey the law.

    “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,” Price said today.

    NOW READ: Australian crypto exchanges are trying to break a deadlock with regulators on trading in digital assets

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