The US Department of Justice is reportedly considering action against rogue ICOs

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesU.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds a news conference to announce an ‘international cybercrime enforcement action’ at the Department of Justice July 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.
  • DoJ looking for a case of “pure fraud” to prosecute, according to former crypto “tsar.”
  • SEC has already taken action and scrutiny of the initial coin offering space is intensifying globally.

LONDON – The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is considering taking action against “initial coin offerings” (ICOs), according to a report in the Financial Times.

Kathryn Haun, a former federal prosecutor who was the DoJ’s first crypto “tsar”, told the FT that the watchdog is looking closely at the space and considering bringing its first case.

Haun, who sits on the board of trading platform Coinbase, said she believes the DoJ will pick a case that’s “pure fraud or a blatant and wanton violation of securities laws rather than a situation that may be a closer call.” This would give the prosecutor a high chance of success and send a warning to the rest of the sector.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission charged a man and two companies for operating fraudulent initial coin offerings in September, the first known action in the space from US regulators.

ICO is a fundraising method that has exploded in popularity so far this year. Startups issue digital coins or tokens in exchange for real money that they use to build their business. The tokens can then be redeemed for goods or services that the startup develops in the future. Over $US3 billion has been raised by over 1,000 issuances in 2017.

ICO fundraisingFunderbeam

However, regulators around the world are wary of ICOs, which many see as simply securities issuances masquerading as something else to avoid regulation.

China and South Korea have banned ICOs and regulators from the US and UK have repeatedly warned investors that ICOs are high-risk and unproven.

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